In a discovery that could provide a new form of communication to millions of people suffering from paralysis or neurological diseases, American scientists have developed a technique that allows users to write numbers and characters on the screen just by thinking.

While demonstrating their technique, the neuroscientists at the Mayo Clinic campus in Jacksonville, Florida, said brain waves can be used to type alphanumerical characters on a computer screen.

They said paralytic patients could make letters appear on screen just by focusing on that letter when presented with a matrix of symbols.

“This study constitutes a baby step on the road toward that future, but it represents tangible progress in using brain waves to do certain tasks,” said neurologist Jerry Shih, the lead author of the study.

The findings, presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, represent concrete progress toward a mind-machine interface that may, one day, help people with a variety of disorders control devices, such as prosthetic arms and legs.

These disorders include Lou Gehrig’s disease and spinal cord injuries, among many others, The Science Daily reported.

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