A neuroprosthesis for simultaneous control of two arms

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Until now, brain-machine interfaces allowed exclusive control of a single limb, now a group of researchers, using new algorithms for processing the activity patterns of neurons of the motor cortex, were able to develop a new neuroprostheses that allows the simultaneous and coordinated control of two arms.

The research was conducted in the laboratory of biomedical engineering at Duke University directed by Miguel AL Nicolelis: two monkeys were able to control the movement of thought with both arms.
The BMI ( brain-machine interfaces ) must now be able to lend a helping hand to people severely paralyzed due to the mind control of multiple devices .

In the course of the new research, Nicolelis and his colleagues have developed a virtual environment where the monkeys could see on a screen realistic copies of their arms and are trained to grab some virtual objects with both hands.
The monkeys first learned to control virtual copies with a pair of joysticks and then with only brain activity.

The interface has not been achieved on the study of the activity of individual neurons, but on the activity pattern registration of 500 neurons in the motor cortex, then processed with new algorithms more sophisticated than the previous.

It was also found that the patterns of neuronal activity related to the movement of two hands differed from those products to move each arm separately.
After a certain period of training, the control arms by animals improved and, with it, it has been observed a widespread phenomenon of plasticity in cortical areas of the brain. This confirms the fact that the brains of monkeys can incorporate virtual arms inside the image of their body.

Source image: reconstructivesurgerytrials.net

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