By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – They are called neural interface systems and they work by translating messages from the brain to robotic devices. Put in simplest terms, neural interface systems take messages from the brain – in people who have been paralyzed – and actually can lead to movement in robotic arms.

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The work is described in the journal Nature and although the work has been done in primates and the movement is relatively slight it means that the potential is there.

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It has previously been shown that people with long standing paralysis can use the technology to move and click computer cursors and able-bodied monkeys can use the technology to control a robotic arm.

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The new research in two humans found neural signals were used to reach and grasp a bottle of coffee, drink from it through a straw, and place it back on the table in four out of six attempts. This was the first time in 14 years that the patient was able to bring any drinking vessel to her mouth and drink from it solely from her own will.