Magazine article Science News


Magazine article Science News


Article excerpt

Cursor cortex

"Mind over matter" (SN: 8/28/99, p. 142) reviews the state of the art in brain-computer interfacing. I am the inventor of the neurotrophic electrode and project director at Neural Signals Inc. for the effort that involves implanting this electrode into the brains of locked-in patients. I appear with Dr. Bakay and the patient JR in the photograph in the article.

The article's last section addresses the concern that following paralysis, the brain's usual responses are distorted and thus would not be appropriate for communication. In our present patient, evidence suggests that the implanted brain becomes devoted to control of the cursor. We call this area the "cursor cortex." If this holds true in subsequent patients, it implies that implantation can be performed, perhaps in any part of the brain, without fear of functional loss.

Philip R. Kennedy
Neural Signals Inc.
Atlanta, Ga.

On plants and parkinsonism

"Tropical fruits linked to parkinsonism" (SN: 7/31/99, p. 69) needs a minor revision. The story refers to research that suggests a link between the so-called Guam syndrome of parkinsonlike symptoms and the consumption of sago palm. It is not sago palm (Metroxylon sagu) but rather the superficially similar cycad tree (Cycas circinalis) that has aroused suspicion.

Sago palms are true palms. They are known in insular Southeast Asia but are not native to Guam. Cycad trees are not palms at all. Because they have fronds, though, they have been popularly lumped into the palm family. …

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