MONKEY SEE, ROBOT DO
Harnessing the power of thought could help paralysed people control their artificial limbs just by willing them to move. This week (Nature, Vol. 408, No. 6810, 16 NOVEMBER 2000), Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues report a significant step towards this goal.
By monitoring monkey brain neuron activity when the animals moved their arms and hands, the researchers fed the ‘brain wave’ electrical signals to a robot arm and made it move in the same way. And using the Internet, they also made a second robot arm hundreds of miles away mimic the monkey’s movement. Both movements take place ‘in real time’ — there is no delay between the monkey moving and the robot copying it. This is crucial for artificial limbs.
"The idea of driving robotic limbs with what effectively amounts to the mere power of thought was once in the realm of science fiction. But this goal is edging closer to reality." says Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi of Northwestern University Medical School, Illinois and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in an accompanying News and Views article.
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