News / Science & Technology

Monkeys Use Their Minds to Move Virtual Arms

Large-scale brain activity from a rhesus monkey was decoded and used to simultaneously control reaching movements of both arms of a virtual monkey avatar towards spherical objects in virtual reality. Photo: Duke Center for Neuroengineering
Large-scale brain activity from a rhesus monkey was decoded and used to simultaneously control reaching movements of both arms of a virtual monkey avatar towards spherical objects in virtual reality. Photo: Duke Center for Neuroengineering
Jessica Berman
Researchers have developed an interface between a monkey’s brains and a machine that could eventually be used to allow someone with a spinal cord injury to control an artificial arm or leg simply by thinking about it. 
 
Initially, interfaces developed by researchers at Duke University’s Center for Neuroengineering in Durham, North Carolina, could control only a single prosthetic limb.
 
Now, the scientists have developed an interface that allows rhesus monkeys to move two arms at the same time, as they watch an avatar - a likeness of themselves - on a computer screen. 


Virtual monkey avatar shown from a 3rd person perspective as the movements of the two arms are decoded in real-time from the brain of a rhesus monkey. In the experiment the virtual arms and 3D target objects appear on the screen from a first-person perspective to the monkey, who receives a juice reward for correctly performed trials. Source: Duke Center for Neuroengineering
 
 
Neurobiology professor Miguel Nicolelis said the monkeys first learned to control the avatar with a pair of joysticks, but then were trained to stay completely still.
 
“They are trained not to move their arms,” Nicolelis said.  “They are trained just to imagine the movements.  And we get the signals from both parts of their brains - both hemispheres - to be routed to a computer that’s running a computer algorithm that translates their voluntary will to move into movements of a virtual body.”
 
Researchers measured the activity of 500 neurons in two monkeys involved in the planning of motor behaviors from multiple areas in both of their brain's cerebral hemispheres. Nicolelis said this neural activity is much more complicated than that involved in moving each arm separately.
 
As the monkeys became more skilled at using their brains to move their virtual arms, researchers saw signs of brain plasticity or neuronal growth, a possible sign the monkeys were incorporating the virtual arms into their own mental image.
 
Nicolelis said scientists are now developing a brain-controlled neuroprosthetic vest to allow the wearer to control prosthetic devices.  The device translates the electrical signals from the brain into motor commands and eventually digital signals that a machine inside the vest can read.
 
Nicolelis said the vest will be unveiled at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
 
“And we hope to make a demonstration during the opening ceremony by having a young paraplegic, a Brazilian adult, to walk into the field using this vest, wearing this vest, controlled by brain activity and being in charge of the opening kick-off of the World Cup,” he said.
 
The vest could potentially help people with spinal cord injuries, and also paralysis caused by a number of diseases.
 
An article on rhesus monkeys using their minds to control virtual arms is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: rodrigo machado from: rio de janeiro brazil
November 10, 2013 6:17 PM
how wonderful to know that Science can help improvimg and saving people's life.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid