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Author Topic: Monkeys that can control bionic arms with thought power  (Read 1147 times)

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Offline trinindian

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Monkeys that can control bionic arms with thought power
« on: May 29, 2008, 08:49:15 PM »
Monkeys have learned to operate a bionic arm by thought alone, in a breakthrough that brings new hope to paralysed people.

In U.S. experiments described as a 'quantum leap' in the search for realistic prosthetic limbs, the animals used the arm to grasp and eat marshmallows and chunks of fruit.

British experts said the experiments, reported in the respected journal Nature, take the human use of brain- controlled bionic limbs 'from the realm of science fiction towards science fact'.

During the research, at the University of Pittsburgh, the monkeys' own arms were restrained at their sides.

The monkey used the mind-controlled arm to grasp and eat marshmallows and chunks of fruit

The bionic arm was postioned next to their shoulders, although not directly attached.

Researchers implanted a grid of tiny electrodes into the animals' brains, in the area which controls movement. They then used sophisticated computer software to pick up and interpret signals from the electrodes.

When the monkeys saw some food they wanted to eat, the computer decoded their brain activity and sent commands to motors in the electronic arm.

The animals quickly learned to use their thoughts to make the hand, or gripper, take pieces of food off a spike.

An article accompanying the report says: "They were able to make the robot reach out to a tasty treat, stop, close the gripper on the treat, remove it from a small peg, bring the gripper back to their mouth and open the gripper to eat the treat, all in one natural-looking motion."

While the results were far from perfect  -  the monkeys missed their mouths around a third of the time  -  the arm offers a greater degree of movement than any artificial limb currently in use.

The device is not the only one under development, although others use nerve grafts rather than electrodes to pick up brain signals.

In time, the technology could be used to create bionic limbs for those who have lost an arm or a leg to injury or disease.

Thought-controlled legs may one day allow people paralysed by spinal cord injuries to walk again.

Researcher Dr Andrew Schwartz said: "Our immediate goal is to make a prosthetic device for people with total paralysis."

Professor Paul Matthews, a clinical neuroscientist at Imperial College-London, said the range of movements of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers  -  twisting and turning, as well as opening and closing  -  made the arm more advanced than anything already available.

He added: "The study shows that fewer than 100 tiny electrical signals generated in the specialised area known as the motor cortex can command even complex hand and arm movements.

"This moves the day when patients disabled after spinal cord injuries or amputations can use brain-controlled bionic limbs from the realm of science fiction towards science fact."

But experts said much work remains to be done, particularly in improving the reliability of the electrodes.


Offline Dutty

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Re: Monkeys that can control bionic arms with thought power
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2008, 05:35:47 PM »
What will they invent next?

Sharks with lasers on their heads?

« Last Edit: May 30, 2008, 05:45:45 PM by Dutty »
Little known fact: The online transportation medium called Uber was pioneered in Trinidad & Tobago in the 1960's. It was originally called pullin bull.

Offline Bitter

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Re: Monkeys that can control bionic arms with thought power
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2008, 12:25:15 AM »
I, For one, welcome our new bionic monkey overlords...

For real though, Bionic F***ing Monkeys?

Actually, that sounding like a dance from the 80's I sure men on this forum could recall they Bionic Monkey days...

On 3rd thought, that is a kickup you could buy on VHS from a man selling out a shopping cart.
Bitter is a supercalifragilistic tic-tac-pro


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