The K.J. Zülch Prize is Germany’s highest honour for basic neurological research. It recognizes outstanding achievements in basic neurological research. Donoghue was recognized for his research on how the brain translates thought into action. His work has resulted in a new brain implant that has allowed people with paralysis to move a computer cursor, control a wheelchair or operate a robotic arm – using thoughts alone.

“John Donoghue’s work offers important insights into the human brain and how to tap its power to improve the lives of people with spinal cord injury and other severe motor impairments,” said Konstantin Hossmann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Cologne. “This is exceptional research that has the real power to change lives.”

The device consists of an implantable sensor and external processors that record and decode brain signals from the motor cortex, turning these signals into movement commands that can control assistive devices. The system is being tested in a clinical trial that has enrolled four patients with paralysis – two with quadreplegia, one with brain stem stroke and the other with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Results show that patients can use the system to read e-mail, control a television, play video games, operate a robotic arm and control a wheelchair. Results from the first clinical trial patient were featured as the cover story for the journal Nature in July 2006.

MEDICA.de; Source: Brown University