Earlier this year, brain signals from an owl monkey in a North Carolina laboratory were transmitted over the Internet to Massachusetts, where the impulses were used to manipulate a robot arm.

That long reach by one small primate, the result of work done by a collaboration of neurobiologists and computer scientists, may signal dramatic possibilities for the human/ machine interface.

In the experiment, electrical signals were picked up by arrays of as many as 96 tiny electrodes implanted in the cerebral cortexes of the two monkeys. The signals were processed to find signatures representing the initiation of movement. As the transmitted signals were detected in real time, 3-D instructions were given to a robotic arm to move accordingly.

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