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Primate research to benefit paralyzed

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A new brain implant method enables monkeys to use a virtual arm controlled by the animal's brain.

An international team of scientists has developed a new method of brain implantation which may enable the paralyzed to walk again in near future.

According to naturenews, researchers at the Duke University in North Carolina have devised a brain implant procedure that enables monkeys to examine virtual objects by utilizing a virtual arm controlled by the animals’ brains.

The international project is called “Walk Again” and is led by Brazilian scientist Miguel Nicolelis.

Participating scientists inserted electrodes into the motor cortex and somatosensory cortex of two monkeys who were then trained to use only their brains to explore virtual objects on a computer screen by moving a virtual image of an arm.

The electrodes in the motor cortex recorded the monkey’s intentions to move and relayed that information to the virtual world.

“We do not know what the animals perceived, but it was a sensation that was created artificially by linking the virtual fingers to the brain directly,” said Nicolelis.

Researchers also plan to make a garment driven by a brain-machine interface that could be used by a person with quadriplegia by the beginning of the 2014 World Cup in Nicolelis’ homeland.


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