- NEW YORK (Reuters
Health) - In what sounds like the plot from a Stephen King novel, scientists
have found a way to use the mind to move matter. In experiments with monkeys,
they were able to harness the animals' brain waves to "will"
a robotic arm to move.
- This suggests that one day, paralyzed people may be able
to move prosthetic limbs simply with the power of their minds, according
to a report in the November 16th issue of Nature. Dr. Miguel Nicolelis
of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, led the study.
- "It was an amazing sight to see the robot in my
lab move, knowing that it was being driven by signals from a monkey brain
at Duke (University)," study co-author Mandayam Srinivasan, of the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said in a statement. "It
was as if the monkey had a 600-mile-long virtual arm."
- Nicolelis and his colleagues used "microwires"
implanted in the brains of two monkeys to monitor electrical activity as
the animals moved their arms and hands. As the monkeys moved, their brain
waves were fed to a robotic arm, which in turn mimicked the animals' movement.
In addition, the researchers were able to send the brain signals over the
Internet to trigger movement in a robotic arm at another location.
- According to the researchers, this opens up the possibility
of a "brain-machine interface" that allows paralyzed people to
move prosthetic limbs.
- What was once thought to be in the "realm of science
fiction" is now closer to reality, Dr. Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi writes
in an editorial accompanying the report. Mussa-Ivaldi, of Northwestern
University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois, notes that the current
study's technology will also help researchers better understand how the
Site Served by TheHostPros