Cyberkinetics founder Dr. John Donoghue, a Brown University neuroscientist, attracted attention with research on monkeys that was published in 2002 in the journal Nature.
Three rhesus monkeys were given implants, which were first used to record signals from their motor cortex - an area of the brain that controls movement - as they manipulated a joystick with their hands. Those signals were then used to develop a program that enabled one of the monkeys to continue moving a computer cursor with its brain.
The idea is not to stimulate the mind but rather to map neural activity so as to discern when the brain is signaling a desire to make a particular physical movement.
"We're going to say to a paralyzed patient, 'imagine moving your hand six inches to the right,'" Surgenor said.
Then, he said, researchers will try to identify the brain activity associated with that desire. Someday, that capacity could feed into related devices, such as a robotic arm, that help patients act on that desire.