Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Brain Implant Lets One Monkey Control Another

monkey science!
A monkey controlling the hand of its unconscious cage-mate with its thoughts may sound like animal voodoo, but it is a step towards returning movement to people with spinal cord injuries.

The hope is that people who are paralysed could have electrodes implanted in their brains that pick up their intended movements. These electrical signals could then be sent to a prosthetic limb, or directly to the person's paralysed muscles, bypassing the injury in their spinal cord.

Ziv Williams at Harvard Medical School in Boston wanted to see if sending these signals to nerves in the spinal cord would also work, as this might ultimately give a greater range of movement from each electrode.

His team placed electrodes in a monkey's brain, connecting them via a computer to wires going into the spinal cord of an anaesthetised, unconscious monkey. The unconscious monkey's limbs served as the equivalent of paralysed limbs. A hand of the unconscious monkey was strapped to a joystick, controlling a cursor that the other monkey could see on a screen.

Full story here.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Florida Hunts For Mischievous Monkey After Series Of Mysterious Car Break-Ins

Just when you thought it was safe to walk through the woods around Tampa Bay area without fear of being pelted by poop winged by a treed monkey, sightings of a rhesus macaque in the Apollo Beach area have popped up over the past few weeks.

Blurry yeti-esque cellphone photos of the creature have been making their way onto social media sites, and state wildlife officials and a local trapper are on the case.

The sightings come within a 16 months of the capture of Cornelius, a rhesus macaque which for four years had vexed and thrilled residents in Pinellas County. So popular was Cornelius, supporters created social media sites for the primate, and his following grew each time he narrowly avoided capture. His reign ended in October 2012 when he was plugged with a tranquilizer dart fired from a rifle wielded by Vernon Yates, director of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation.

Yates said there may be two monkeys in south Hillsborough County, one in Apollo Beach, spotted in the Mira Bay community, and one spotted in Parrish, more than 10 miles away. Or, he said, it could be the same travelin' macaque.

The latest rumor: The monkey opened a car door, got in, then got out in Apollo Beach and closed the door.

Full story here.