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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Science |

Paralyzed people manage to control robot arm with his mind

Two people paralyzed from the neck down, learned to manipulate a robotic arm with thoughts only, and may use it to pick things up. For example, one woman managed to grab a cup of coffee and drink it, may avail itself for the first time in 15 years.

The experiment is the first to demonstrate that human neural serious damage can control a prosthesis with the mind, using small implants in the brain that transmit nerve signals to a computer. The report was published by the journal Nature .

The advance is important for people with spinal problems to live more independent lives. Yet this can not be applied outside the laboratory, but it is an important step to reach the mind controlled prosthesis that can be used in the future by anyone.

The two subjects in the experiment were a 58 year old woman and a man of 66 who are quadriplegics. Each was inserted a sensor the size of an aspirin under the bone in the head, in an area that controls movement of the arms or hands. Patients learned to move a robotic arm installed on a doll beside them, watching scientists move the arm and then imagining that they were moving.

The transmitting sensor patterns sent by neurons in this imaginary movement to a computer through a cable, where the computer stored patterns, and translated to a command to move the arm (left, right, up, down, etc.) .

With some practice, they managed to control the arm, one after 3 years from the last time he had moved a limb, and another after 15 years, which shows that we never forget how.

Yet to make several improvements, such as implementing a wireless system, refine and improve control of prostheses.

Link: Paralyzed, Moving a Robot With Their Minds (NYTimes)

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