Nov. 6 - Neuroscientists at Duke University have taught monkeys to control a pair of virtual arms using only their thoughts. It's the first demonstration of brain activity controlling two limbs simultaneously and represents a major advance in the development of a brain-machine interface system that could one day restore mobility to people with severe paralysis. Ben Gruber reports.
This virtual monkey's movements are being controlled by the thoughts of a real monkey. For the first time, researchers at Duke University, have been able to use brain activity to control two virtual arms at the same time. The researchers established a brain-machine interface and recorded the activity of a record-setting 500 neurons from the animals' brain to make the demonstration work. Up until now, similar research could only control a single limb. According to the scientists, the results suggest that the monkeys' brains may incorporate the virtual arms into the internal image of their bodies, thereby allowing their brains to control them the same way they would their real limbs. The study pushes forward efforts to develop a brain-controlled neuroprosthetic device which aimed at restoring mobility to millions of people suffering from paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries.