- Neuroscientists at Duke University Health System in Durham enable monkeys to operate robotic wheelchairs using their minds
- As the monkeys thought about moving toward their goal, a wireless brain-machine interface translated their brain signals into real-time operation of the chair
- The research was published in the Scientific Reports
After nearly four years of research, neuroscientists at Duke University Health System in Durham taught monkeys to drive robotic wheelchairs using their minds.
The scientists developed a wireless brain-machine interface (BMI) that permits a monkey to control the wheelchair. According to the researchers, the study could give severely paralysed individuals their freedom back in the future.
They implanted hundreds of ‘multi-electrode arrays’ into the brains of two monkeys. This allowed investigators to record the activity of their brain regions involved in movement and sensation.
During the training phase, the scientists allowed the monkeys to move freely within a space in a wheelchair to record their electrical brain activity.
They then developed a computer system to translate their brain messages into digital motor commands that managed the movements of the wheelchair.
The interface was able to translate the monkeys’ brain signals into directional movements in the wheelchair to complete a task.
As the monkeys thought about moving toward their goal, computers translated their brain signals into real-time operation of the chair.
“In some severely disabled people, even blinking is not possible,” said Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, co-director for the Duke Center for Neuroengineering. “For them, using a wheelchair or device controlled by noninvasive measures like an EEG (a device that monitors brain waves through electrodes on the scalp) may not be sufficient. We show clearly that if you have intracranial implants, you get better control of a wheelchair than with noninvasive devices.”
The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Read the study: Wireless Cortical Brain-Machine Interface
Visit the source page: Wireless Cortical Brain-Machine Interface