Monkeys Master Mind Control of Mechanical Arm

By Andrew Moseman | May 28, 2008 4:14 pm

A macaque using mind controlScientists have taught monkeys to control a robotic arm with their thoughts. No, the primates aren’t telekinetic—they have computerized brain implants—but their newfound ability is one of the most impressive examples yet of linking brains to machines.

The research team, led by Andrew Schwartz from the University of Pittsburgh, used two macaques in their study. They planted a tiny computer grid over each primate’s motor cortex, an area of the brain that normally controls the monkey’s arm movement. Then they mounted the robotic appendage, complete with elbow and shoulder joints and a claw for grabbing, on each animal’s shoulder where its normal arm is attached. The computerized implant would read the monkeys’ minds—or rather, it would pick up on their motor neurons firing—and translate those electrical impulses into the appropriate maneuver in the machine.

Researchers then placed several kinds of food in front of the macaques and encouraged them to reach for it with the robotic arm and chow down. Not only did the monkeys learn to feed themselves with the electronic limb, but within a few days they became regular pros—opening the claw before it reached the food, not gripping too tightly to avoid crushing a piece of fruit, and slowly letting loose to drop the food in their mouths. They even adjusted to a marshmallow’s gooey consistency, licking away the remnants stuck to the prosthetic fingertips.

The scientists hope this experiment leads eventually to human uses, like new prostheses for victims of spinal cord injuries. But if you were thinking this research would allow you to get in touch with your inner cyborg, you might be in for a disappointment. Implanted computer grids like the one Schwartz’s team used endure for only a few months at best. And no one has developed a wireless system yet, so you’d be stuck with cables in your scalp.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: What’s Inside Your Brain?
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  • Blue Sky Victim

    Accusation-I am the Blue Sky Victim. The Television and Radio industries, hereinafter MEDIA, have expanded on the work of Dr. Jose Delgado and Dr. Fry.
    1. I have seen firsthand demonstrations of the MEDIA’s ability to capture human thought, modulate it in with the MEDIA’s outgoing carrier so that those thoughts can be heard in the head of any person the outgoing carrier passes through; hereinafter TALKINGHEADPHENOMENA.
    2. The MEDIA has also demonstrated the ability to make static/feedback heard in the same manner as TALKINGHEADPHENOMENA; hereinafter STATICHEADPHENOMENA. Multiple counties can be subjected to STATICHEADPHENOMENA. The only apparent reason for the STATICHEADPHENOMENA I observed in the Los Angeles/Orange county area was to coerce the population into acting in a particular manner.
    3. I have seen firsthand demonstrations of the MEDIA’s ability to make entire videos appear as dreams during sleep; Hereinafter DREAMHEADPHENOMENA.
    4. I have seen varied other radio/electromagnetic Phenomena; The government unofficially acknowledged the activity then failed to action under FCC or any pertinent Bureau or statute.
    Proposed Solution-Specific legislative Act outlawing any Electromagnetic Wave that is detectible at the human anatomy or human thought process. Specific priority inclusive of that Act so this matter does not get shuffled under some other agenda.
    What I Want From The Readers Of This Site-Post other Jurisdictions where the activities described as is TALKINGHEADPHENOMENA, STATICHEADPHENOMENA, DREAMHEADPHENOMENA is occurring. Post your legislative thoughts in this matter. Propose legislation that encompasses the problem without passing into unrelated areas concerning statements made, political influence and religious influence etc. etc.

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