Can a machine read a person’s mind? A medical device company is about to find out.



The company, Cyberkinetics Inc., plans to implant a tiny chip in the brains of five paralyzed people in an effort to enable them to operate a computer by thought alone.


The Food and Drug Administration has given approval for a clinical trial of the implants, according to the company.



The implants, part of what Cyberkinetics calls its BrainGate system, could eventually help people with spinal cord injuries, strokes, Lou Gehrig’s disease or other ailments to communicate better or even to operate lights and other devices through a kind of neural remote control.



“You can substitute brain control for hand control, basically,” said Dr. John P. Donoghue, chairman of the neuroscience department at Brown University and a founder of Cyberkinetics, which hopes to begin the trial as early as next month.



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