See Inside February 2011

Mind Out of Body: Controlling Machines with Thought

In an exclusive excerpt from his new book, a pioneering neuroscientist argues that brain-wave control of machines will allow the paralyzed to walk, and portends a future of mind melds and thought downloads

Illustration by Kenn Brown, Mondolithic Studios

Excerpt adapted from Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines—and How It Will Change Our Lives, by Miguel Nicolelis. To be published March 15 by arrangement with Times Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright © 2011 by Miguel Nicolelis.

Almost every time one of my scientific manuscripts returned from the mandatory peer-review process during the past three decades, I had to cope with the inevitable recommendation that all scraps of speculative thinking about our ability to interface brains and machines should be removed from the papers. More often than not, other neuroscientists who reviewed these papers before publication did not wish to entertain the notion that this research could lend support to more daring scientific dreams in the future. During those painful reckonings, I would fantasize about the day when I could rescue those speculative ideas and liberate them for others to consider and contemplate. Our progress in the laboratory means that the time to tell others has finally arrived.

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