A new algorithm allows a person to use his or her thoughts to grasp a bottle or other object. The non-invasive brain monitoring technique, developed by University of Houston researchers, will help the team understand the neuroscience behind the action of grasping.

The researchers created a computer program, or brain-machine interface (BMI), that harnesses the subject’s intentions and allows him or her to successfully grab objects like a water bottle and a credit card.

In a test, the amputee used a fitted bionic hand to grasp the selected objects 80 percent of the time.

Previous studies involving either surgically implanted electrodes or myoelectric control, which relies upon electrical signals from muscles in the arm, have shown similar success rates, according to the researchers.

By measuring brain activity via scalp electroencephalogram, or EEG, the new technology avoids the risks of surgically implanting electrodes.

The University of Houston work, funded by the National Science Foundation, demonstrates for the first time EEG-based BMI control of a multi-fingered prosthetic hand for grasping by an amputee.

Beyond demonstrating that prosthetic control is possible using non-invasive EEG, researchers said the study will be applicable to rehabilitation for other types of injuries, including stroke and spinal cord injury.