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This podcast's purpose is to bring together the field of neuroprosthetics/brain machine interfaces/brain implants in an understandable conversation about the current topics and breakthroughs.

We hope to replace needing to read scientific papers on new research in an easy to digest way.

People can share thoughts or ideas to facilitate 'idea sex' to make the field of brain implants a smaller and more personal space.

Apr 13, 2020

Nathan Copeland is a paraplegic neural implantee who has four Blackrock Utah electrode arrays implanted in his brain. He uses a robotic arm which has a wider functionality than a regular arm, and has even fist bumped the president with it. In this episode, he discusses his experiences being implanted and how using the implants has changed his life.

Top three takeaways:

  1. When Nathan Copeland met President Obama and had a fist bump with him, he realized that the president was very interested in the science involved in his implants. He was able to connect personally with the president, and this reaffirmed the notion that the president is just a human being.
  2. There are many different types of robotic arms with slightly different structures and functionalities, and different people may prefer different varieties. Some people prefer ones that look more anatomical, while others may prefer ones with a wider functionality.
  3. Nathan Copeland initially had a fear of public speaking, but after giving presentations on his condition and the various robotic arms he used, he found that he was actually enjoying it more and more. In particular, he found it very fulfilling when people would tell him how inspired they were by his presentations, and this increased his enjoyment of public speaking.

[0:00] Ladan introduces the episode and the guest, Nathan Copeland

[3:20] Copeland describes the accident that led to C-5 quadriplegia and his time spent on a research registry to become a subject in the BCI study that gave him the implants

[5:45] Copeland discusses the screening process he had to go through to become a part of this study and how he knew he wanted to be a part of it despite his mother’s opposition to it

[9:30] Copeland talks about the pain and discomfort he went through following the implantation of the electrode arrays

[13:20] When Copeland went to meet President Obama, he was told that the president was “just a person”. When Copeland did meet the president, it was obvious that he seemed very interested in the science behind the implants and was able to bond with Copeland as a person.

[15:45] The training Copeland needed to use the robot limbs controlled by the implants was never something that he had to really work for

[18:45] The robotic arm that Copeland uses is a non-anatomical arm, and he likes it because it can move in his workspace in ways a regular anatomical arm cannot

[22:15] Different people may have different preferences in what they would want in a robotic arm – some would prefer a traditional anatomical arm, while others would want an arm with more functionality even if it looks unconventional

[25:00] One of Copeland’s biggest dreams that recently came true was to travel to Japan – he had wanted to visit Japan his whole life, and he knew that his condition would have made it very difficult

[28:30] Copeland used to have anxiety when it came to public speaking, but after giving his presentation on the robotic arms he has used, it gets easier for him the more he presents it. A lot of people have been inspired by his presentations, and he now very much enjoys the experiences.

[32:10] Copeland would like to see an improvement in the robotic arms used by the BCI systems

[35:30] Copeland has a YouTube channel called BCI Can Do Better where he demonstrates the various activities he can do with his BCI system, such as playing Final Fantasy XIV

Nathan Copeland’s email address is bcicandobetter@gmail.com