As biologists learn more about how our bodies work, the gap between man and machine becomes continually smaller. The tiny chip called Braingate is implanted on the motor cortex of the brain. Braingate transmits signals from the brain to a computer, allowing you to play games or surf the Internet simply by thinking it.

Since the insertion of the tiny device in June, the 25-year-old has been able to check email and play computer games simply using thoughts. He can also turn lights on and off and control a television, all while talking and moving his head.

The chip, called BrainGate, is being developed by Massachusetts-based neurotechnology company Cyberkinetics, following research undertaken at Brown University, Rhode Island.

Results of the pilot clinical study will be presented to the Society for Neuroscience annual conference in San Diego, California, on Sunday. Up to five more patients are to be recruited for further research into the safety and potential utility of the device.

BrainGate offers the possibility of hitherto unimaginable levels of independence for the severely disabled.

Although many are able to control computers with their eyes or tongue, such techniques remain dependent on muscular function and require extensive training.

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