To Study the Brain, a Doctor Puts Himself Under the Knife

Phil Kennedy no longer saw any other way to get the data. That was how one day he came to lie blissfully unconscious on an operating table in Belize while a neurosurgeon sawed off the top of his skull.Last year, Kennedy, a 67-year-old neurologist and inventor, did something unprecedented in the annals of self-experimentation. He paid a surgeon in Central America $25,000 to implant electrodes into his brain in order to establish a connection between his motor cortex and a computer. Along with a small group of pioneers, Kennedy, who was born in Ireland, had in the late 1980s developed “invasive” human brain-computer interfaces—literally wires inside the brain attached to a computer, and he is widely credited as the first to allow a severely paralyzed “locked-in” patient to move a…


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