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Brain-machine interface lets monkeys control two virtual arms

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Posted November 7, 2013
Monkeys use minds to move 2 virtual arms
Large-scale brain activity from a rhesus monkey was decoded and used to simultaneously control reaching movements of both arms of a virtual monkey avatar towards spherical objects in virtual reality. Credit: Duke Center for Neuroengineering
In a study led by Duke researchers, monkeys have learned to control the movement of both arms on an avatar using just their brain activity.

The findings, published Nov. 6, 2013, in the journal Science Translational Medicine, advance efforts to develop bilateral movement in brain-controlled prosthetic devices for severely paralyzed patients.

To enable the monkeys to control two virtual arms, researchers recorded nearly 500 neurons from multiple areas in both cerebral hemispheres of the animals’ brains, the largest number of neurons recorded and reported to date.

Millions of people worldwide suffer from sensory and motor deficits caused by spinal cord injuries. Researchers are working to develop tools to help restore their mobility and sense of touch by connecting their brains with assistive devices. The brain-machine interface approach, pioneered at the Duke University Center for Neuroengineering in the early 2000s, holds promise for reaching this goal. However, until now brain-machine interfaces could only control a single prosthetic limb.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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