Researchers have shown how nerve cells can grow along bundles of a special fibre, which has properties similar to spider silk.
They hope the silk will encourage cell re-growth across severed nerves, possibly even in damaged spinal cords.
"The results hold out the promise to one day be able to activate limb muscles with these brain signals, effectively restoring brain to muscle control via a physical nervous system," said John Donoghue, director of the brain science programme at Brown University, Rhode Island, and chief scientific officer of Cyberkinetics, the company behind the brain implant.
Professor Donoghue's work is published today in Nature. He describes how, after a few minutes spent calibrating the implant, Mr Nagle could read emails and play the computer game Pong. He was able to draw circular shapes using a paint programme and could also change channel and turn up the volume on a television, even while talking to people around him. After several months, he could also operate simple robotic devices such as a prosthetic hand, which he used to grasp and move objects.