This July scientists reported using a neural implant in a man’s brain to restore his ability to communicate. The man, known as Pancho, has been partially paralyzed and unable to produce intelligible speech since suffering a severe stroke in 2003.

The new technology records Pancho’s brain activity with an array of electrodes, analyzes the activity to detect the words he is trying to say and then translates those intentions into written words that can be displayed on a computer screen. It is the latest advance in the exploding field of brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs. Similar systems have made headlines for allowing people paralyzed from the neck down to control computer cursors and muscle stimulators directly with their thoughts.

Brain-computer interfaces allow computers to read information out of, or insert information into, a living brain. We will undoubtedly see more headlines about BCIs as new advances build on prior…

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