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.
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