Scientists have developed a neuro-computer interface that allows a monkey to control the movements of a robotic wheelchair at a distance, only the power of thought. Similar devices help paralyzed people with disabilities move off again. On the development described in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
The invention was presented in the laboratory a well-known expert on neuro-computer interfaces Miguel Nicolelis (Miguel Nicolelis) from Duke University. Previously, Nicolelis monkey could manage only dentures. Now, however, the first time scientists have adapted brain-computer interface to control movement of the whole body. Wireless multichannel implant was integrated into the brain of experimental animal with only 300 neurons in the monkey imagined the route of a chair and reached the goal.
Incentive for the monkey was a plate with grapes, which they tried to reach. The scientists recorded brain signals and convert them into digital commands which control movement of the vehicle.
Unlike in the previous experiments (with prosthesis), monkeys were trained to control with the joystick. This fact is especially noted by researchers: new technology could be transferred to the paralytics, which does not have to learn by using hands. In addition, the implant Nicolelis has proven its strength and safety to the tissues of the brain: they work for several years.
Over time, the quality control of a wheelchair increased. The monkey began to mentally calculate the distance to a plate of grapes (judging by the new signals from their brain). “Our data indicate that the wheelchair is assimilated by the brain of the animal and perceived them as an element of body image. In fact, the chair becomes part of the body of the monkey,” said Nicolelis.
After 17 years of research the scientist noted that its technology has reached the stage where you can begin to implant devices in the human brain and to begin clinical trials.