Neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis poses
with an owl monkey and a robotic arm.

Monkey Moves Robot with Brain

May 29, 2008 06:23 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A recent study shows that nonhuman primates can direct remote limbs via brain waves, offering hope for prosthetic limb technology.

30-Second Summary

A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature shows that monkeys are able to move remote robot arms by using their thoughts alone.

The science behind brain-machine interface technology has been in development, since initial studies were completed on nonhuman primates at Duke University in 2003.

The studies hold wide promise for the future development of prosthetic limbs: “scientists expect that technology will eventually allow people with spinal cord injuries and other paralyzing conditions to gain more control over their lives,” the New York Times reports.

In another study completed in 2005, a researcher noted that the implications of controlling remote apparatuses through brain waves indicates that “the brain has extraordinary abilities to adapt to incorporate artificial tools, whether directly controlled by the brain or through the appendages.”

At approximately the same time as the second primate study was conducted in 2005, animal rights activists in the U.K. began protesting tests conducted on nonhuman primates.

A 2008 ruling by the European Commission found that a total ban on nonhuman primate testing would be detrimental to medical progress.

Headline Link: Monkeys move robot limbs with brain waves

Background: Earlier studies in brain-machine interface technology

Opinion & Analysis: U.K. debate on the ethics of primate testing


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