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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
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An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
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Monkey Reaches Out With Robotic Arm
16 November 2000 7:00 pm
Signals from a monkey's brain can control a robotic arm, driving the mechanical limb to mimic the movements of the flesh-and-blood simian arm, researchers report. A similar setup that could "read" human brain signals might lead to movable prosthetic limbs for people who are paralyzed or have lost an arm.
Last year, a team led by neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, harnessed brain activity in rats and translated it into commands that made a robot arm push a lever. They wired the rat's motor cortex and patched electrical signals from firing nerves into the robot's command center.
Nicolelis's team has now refined the technique, taking signals from a more complex brain and translating them into more realistic three-dimensional movements. The researchers implanted a bundle of ultrafine electrodes into a few cortical areas in the brains of two owl monkeys. They eavesdropped on local brain signals when the owl monkey moved its arm. First they recorded and analyzed the signals to see if they could guess the arm's trajectory as the monkeys reached for food or other objects. Once the researchers confirmed their predictions, they patched those signals into the robotic arm. When a monkey reached for a chunk of food, the mechanical arm simultaneously aped the movement, the researchers report in the 16 November issue of Nature. To share the success, they sent brain signals from a monkey at Duke over the Internet to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the signals drove another robotic arm.
The study has cleared one of the major obstacles to producing a dexterous prosthetic arm--controlling three-dimensional movements in real time--says neurobiologist Eberhard Fetz of the University of Washington, Seattle. But plenty of formidable challenges remain, he cautions. For one, researchers will have to crack the more demanding problem of controlling fingers. Says Fetz, "It's one thing to make the arm move around in space, it's another thing to get it to pick up eggs."