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Motor-based prosthetics are mainly concerned with recording activity from motor cortical areas that is related to arm and hand movements. In this approach, recordings from cells have been decoded to position a cursor on a screen or move a robotic arm. They have also been used to decode signals related to desired grip force of the hand .

Cognitive neural prosthetics are concerned with recording activity related to higher level cognitive processes that organize behavior. In this approach, recordings of neural activity have been used to decode the state of the subject, their goals and the expected value they place on those goals.

Decoding these and other cognitive processes directly means patients can have new ways to control their prosthetic device and their control can be more flexible.

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