Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Brain Implant Lets One Monkey Control Another

A schematic of the experimental setup in which brain activity from one monkey was used to control the hand of another, sedated monkey.  

A schematic of the experimental setup in which brain activity from one monkey was used to control the hand of another, sedated monkey.
 
 In work inspired partly by the movie "Avatar," one monkey could control the body of another monkey using thought alone by connecting the brain of the puppet-master monkey to the spine of the other through a prosthesis, researchers say.

These findings could help lead to implants that help patients overcome paralysis, scientists added.

Paralysis due to nerve or spinal cord damage remains a challenge for current surgical techniques. Scientists are now attempting to restore movement to such patients with brain-machine interfaces that allow people to operate computers or control robotic limbs. [Monkey Avatars: Primates Move Virtual Arms with Mind (Video)]

"However, we were interested in seeing whether one could use brain activity to help control one's own paralyzed limb," said study author Ziv Williams, a neuroscientist and neurosurgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston. "The benefit there is that you are using your own body as opposed to a mechanical device, which can need a lot of support and is not always practical to carry around with you."

Ultimately, "the hope is to create a functional bypass for the damaged spinal cord or brainstem so that patients can control their own bodies," Williams told Live Science.

The researchers developed a brain-to-spinal-cord prosthesis that connected two adult male rhesus monkeys.

For the rest of the story: http://www.livescience.com/43443-monkey-brain-controls-another-monkey.html

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