For years, futurists have dreamed of machines that could translate pure thought into action. Now, human trials are set to begin on an interface involving chips implanted in the brain that one day might enable students with severe disabilities to communicate effectively and even learn in a traditional classroom setting.

Cyberkinetics Inc. of Foxboro, Mass., has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin a clinical trial in which four-square-millimeter chips will be placed beneath the skulls of paralyzed patients.

If successful, the chips could allow patients

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