Monkey’s control robot arm with brain power

Scientists have trained monkeys to work a robotic arm by teaching the monkeys to use the power of their minds

Scientists have trained monkeys to work a robotic arm by teaching the monkeys to use the power of their minds. The experiment was reported in the scientific journal, Nature. The scientists hope the technique can be put to use in the future by amputee or victims of stroke caused paralysis.

The monkeys have been immobilized for the experiment and had electrode filaments inserted into their cerebral cortex . According to the scientists, the monkeys learned within days to reach out with the robotic arms to pluck food with a pincer-like claw, and pop it in their mouths.

When the path of the arm — positioned next to the shoulder — was deliberately blocked, the animals simply willed it around the obstacle with their minds.

In previous studies, researchers showed that humans who had been paralyzed for years could learn to control a cursor on a computer screen with their brain waves and that nonhuman primates could use their thoughts to move a mechanical arm, a robotic hand, or a robot on a treadmill.

“These new studies show the entire task can now be performed using brain control,” says Andrew Schwartz, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Prof. Schwartz’s experiments bring hope to paralysis victims that one day they can short-circuit their own nervous system by hardwiring their brains directly to a computerised robot.

“Hopefully we will be implanting microelectrode arrays (in humans) in the next two years,” Prof. Schwartz said. “At that point it should be relatively easy to perform this kind of task,” he said.

Source: New York Times
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