Neuroscientist at the University of Chicago had conducted a research study which showed a novel finding about amputees those can acquire technique to mechanize a robotic arm using brain implanted electrodes.

Robotic arm, Amputees

Research article published in Nature Communication specifies alterations occurring in both sides of the brain controlling amputated and remaining intact limb. Both the areas of brain can develop new program to learn to control the device even after decades of amputation.

According to Nicho Hatsopoulos, Professor at University of Chicago, it’s very fascinating to observe the ability of chronic and long-term amputees to learn controlling robotic limb and network building in two different areas of brain during this activity.

Paralyzed human patients had already studied with robotic arm experiments and they succeeded to use robotic limbs with brain machine interface. Current study was conducted in amputees very first time whereupon researchers conducted experiment on three rhesus monkeys who already suffered accidents at young age and an arm was amputated after several years to rescue them. The researchers fixed electrode arrays in two monkeys in the side of the brain opposite to amputated limb. While in third monkey, electrodes were implanted on the same side to the amputated limb.

The monkeys were thoroughly trained to move robotic arm for grasping ball using their thinking. Activity of neurons was recorded during the initial and final stages of experiments and studied with statistical model. Very sparse connection was observed between neurons on contralateral side but with progress in training, these connections became strong and dense for grasping the ball. Even on the same side of the brain, networks were thin in beginning then as the training progressed, networks become denser.

As per Karthikeyan Balasubramanian, a postdoctoral researcher, when animal was trying to learn a new task, neural network were initially very thin and scattered which with repeated performing the same task build interconnected strong network that develops between intact and neuroprosthetic limb. Currently, the team was collaborating with other research groups to link neuroprosthetic limb with sensory receptors of touch and proprioception.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Chicago Medical Center & ScienceDaily.
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.