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Watching a video demonstration of Synchron’s Stentrode in action feels like watching something out of a science-fiction movie. A man sits at his computer, writing emails, texting and searching the Internet—but he never touches a key. Instead, he operates the machine with only his thoughts. Intended for people with paralysis, the Stentrode system digitizes signals generated by the part of the brain that controls movement, translating them into commands that a computer (equipped with the right software) can execute. So far the device, which remains in the experimental stage, has proved successful for two people with ALS, and the Food and Drug Administration has given its sign-off for a larger study in the U.S., bringing the technology one step closer to widespread use. —Jamie Ducharme

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