BERLIN — Scientists have developed a mind-controlled robotic hand that allows people with certain types of spinal injuries to perform everyday tasks such as using a fork or drinking from a cup.

The low-cost device was tested in Spain on six people with quadriplegia affecting their ability to grasp or manipulate objects.

By wearing a cap that measures electric brain activity and eye movement, the users were able to send signals to a tablet computer that controlled the glovelike device attached to their hand.

Participants in the small-scale study were able to perform daily activities better with the robotic hand than without, according to results published Tuesday in the journal Science Robotics.

The principle of using brain-controlled robotic aids to assist people with quadriplegia isn’t new. But many existing systems require implants, which can cause health problems, or use wet gel to transmit signals from the scalp to the electrodes. The gel needs to be washed out of the user’s hair afterward, making it impractical in daily life.

It took participants just 10 minutes to learn how to use the system before they could carry out tasks such as picking up potato chips or signing a document.


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