Enhanced brain-machine interface taps into additional senses

December 14, 2010

"Wearable exoskeletal robots could provide sensory information to patients with full or partial feeling

Monkeys moved thought-controlled computer cursors more quickly and accurately when provided with additional sensory feedback, according to a new study in the Dec. 15 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. While most brain-machine technologies rely only on visual feedback, this study demonstrated that these systems can be improved when users have additional input, such as a sense of the arm’s position and motion, a sensation known as proprioception.

With the aid of brain-controlled devices, paralyzed people have been able to send e-mail, play video games, and operate robotic arms. In this study, researchers led by Nicholas Hatsopoulos, PhD, of the University of Chicago, aimed to help further develop such machines for people who may still experience feeling in paralyzed limbs, including many patients with spinal cord injury and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

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