Brain Implant Gives Monkeys Virtual Limbs

Brain Implant Gives Monkeys Virtual Limbs

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Monkeys with virtual arms: breakthrough in technology to help the disabled or premise for the next Planet of the Apes movie? You make the call.

Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, of Duke University Medical Center, is a man with a dream. A dream of restoring feeling and functionality to the disabled. A dream that is now a bit closer to reality thanks to some cybernetically-enhanced simians.

The monkeys have been implanted with a brain chip and a series of electrodes that allows them to feel sensations through an arm that is not their own. These primates can "feel" the texture of objects as easily as they might through their natural limbs, which is an important step toward creating artificial arms and legs capable of replicating natural human movement.

Imagine you're standing in a field of grass, barefoot. Every time you take a step forward, your foot contacts the ground and a complex series of sensations tells your brain how to react to this latest step. Is the ground smooth enough to stand on? Are there any bees hidden in the grass? This is the kind of thing we all take for granted, but is a huge hurdle in designing faux limbs, whether they be legs or arms.

Dr. Nicolelis' team hopes to one day create an exoskeleton that will restore a close analogue of natural movement to the disabled using these same kinds of brain-stimulating implants.

"The patient will be able to use their brain to control their movement, but they could also get sensations back from their legs, arms and hands," Nicolelis said.

"We are looking to have a demonstration of this in time for the World Cup in 2014. When the Brazilian team walks on to the field, we want them accompanied by two quadriplegic teenagers who will walk on to the pitch and kick the ball using this technology."

For now though, the technology is relegated to test monkeys, who seem to be growing increasingly capable at using their phantom limbs. In a series of tests described by the UK's Guardian newspaper, the monkeys learned to use their virtual arms to feel out a three-dimensional space. When they moved the prosthetic hand into a certain area (again, with only the power of their minds), they were rewarded with a bit of juice. According to researchers, this kind of simple reward system is enough for the primates to grow quite proficient at using the new limbs relatively rapidly.

That, in particular, is what gives Dr. Nicolelis hope that this tech can be applied to human patients. "The remarkable success with nonhuman primates is what makes us believe that humans could accomplish the same task much more easily in the near future," Nicolelis said. "We hope that in the next few years this technology could help to restore a more autonomous life to many patients who are currently locked in without being able to move or experience any tactile sensation of the surrounding world."

Source: Guardian

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The monkey didn't ask for this.

son of a... name game can tell the future!

This is but the first step on the road to immortality trough cyborgism! Muahahah!

Cool. Problem is, the brain/computer interface is crude. Don't worry, I'm working on that aspect of the technology.

this is really cool, not only because it might help the disabled, but because with this technology we could also develope awesome video games. just imagine, you lose a leg in a car accident, and within a short time you are walking normally, then go and use the exact same technology to play your favourite game. That is some awesome science fiction getting closer to science fact.

LoneGunmanO23:
The monkey didn't ask for this.

It didn't ask to be shown how much of a primate it really was...

Really cool! First step on the road to deus ex style prosthetics. I'd definitely replace my biological limbs with mechanically enhanced alternatives.

Gentlemen, welcome to the future!!!

This actually sounds pretty incredible if I do say so myself. Fancy that... artificial limbs that act more like the real thing.

Earnest Cavalli:
image

Freakin' Cyber Woo. Damn that takes me back. That is quite possibly the perfect gaming-related image to accompany this story. You, sir, have earned yourselve some massive props. These are even rollover props that won't expire at the end of the year.

Well that's absolutely amazing. We appear to be one step closer to Deus Ex: HR style Augmentations...

So... what happens when these monkeys get an MRI/walk near a strong enough magnet/the chip starts experiencing errors over the years? Do they die? Does the chip have to be replaced, and how long of a time window do we have before the broken chip starts acting as a poison? How does this 'solid' chip affect a very 'mushy' brain?

Its great that they managed tactile detection (hasn't this been worked on already? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2104531/), but the underlying short-comings still remain as this is all dependent on external components that one could argue add more weaknesses to the whole that makes up your body.

General, external prosthetic limbs are great things that help many people with limited draw backs, but we need to know more about the limits/hazards of this before we start praising it as the next great step. A metal leg, while you can't feel through it, isn't going to possibly murder you if it gets thrown out of whack by an external effect over which you have no control. Instead of sticking chips into people's heads, wouldn't it make much more sense to use our knowledge of neurons and the nervous system to create biologically identical replacements from their own stem cells for the people who lost body parts?

You know what the best part of that is, those implants can be hooked directly to a virtual world... now think about that for a second.

I wonder, could you take that same or a similar chip and instead of having it get feedback from a prosthetic limb have it get feedback from a completely virtual source? Interact with your computer with completely virtual limbs or something like that?

BrainWalker:

Earnest Cavalli:
image

Freakin' Cyber Woo. Damn that takes me back. That is quite possibly the perfect gaming-related image to accompany this story. You, sir, have earned yourselve some massive props. These are even rollover props that won't expire at the end of the year.

I'm glad somebody got that reference.

BrainWalker:

Earnest Cavalli:
image

Freakin' Cyber Woo. Damn that takes me back. That is quite possibly the perfect gaming-related image to accompany this story. You, sir, have earned yourselve some massive props. These are even rollover props that won't expire at the end of the year.

You beat me to it.

Long live Cyber Woo.

LoneGunmanO23:
The monkey didn't ask for this.

Well played sir.

LoneGunmanO23:
The monkey didn't ask for this.

Read article, genuinely interesting, thought of DE:HR, scroll down...

BEST FIRST COMMENT EVER.

Made me lol.

Mr.K.:
You know what the best part of that is, those implants can be hooked directly to a virtual world... now think about that for a second.

Fuck yeah!

I for one would be willing to have brain implants to have the most realistic video game experience ever.

Does this mean that you could give someone extra arms?

Wait, cybernetics can FEEL now?

That's good If you're missing a limb.

sinterklaas:

Mr.K.:
You know what the best part of that is, those implants can be hooked directly to a virtual world... now think about that for a second.

Fuck yeah!

I for one would be willing to have brain implants to have the most realistic video game experience ever.

I was thinking porn, but video games work too.

20 years from now MS and Sony are making console hardware that is implanted into your head.

It will bring the RROD to a whole new level.

This has been going on for a while. My brother was on a project with ASU five or six years ago. They did the same work with several chimps, implanting the control interface directly into the basal ganglia, making it far superior to other prostheses. It was the same thing: mechanical limb with sensitivity to touch, excellent brain interface, etc. It was just the brain surgery that was too dangerous for people.

This is not exactly the freshest news...

I can so see a robot with human brain in it coming.
especially since human brain can live for up to 300 years of taken care of correctly while our death is caused by other organs failure.

LoneGunmanO23:
The monkey didn't ask for this.

I knew it. I knew this would be in the comments secion. But STRAIGHT AWAY? christ man, the ubiquity is strong with this joke., and I love that. I knew precisely what was going to appear in the first page because it leapt into my own mind as well. I was irritated that I didn't get there first, but grinning because everyone is on the same wavelength about this just now,

Prepare for an influx of messages from people saying you ninja'd them.

darthotaku:
this is really cool, not only because it might help the disabled, but because with this technology we could also develope awesome video games. just imagine, you lose a leg in a car accident, and within a short time you are walking normally, then go and use the exact same technology to play your favourite game. That is some awesome science fiction getting closer to science fact.

Or a nightmare.

Hmm... I think we've all been playing that game far too much.

trust Milo:
Does this mean that you could give someone extra arms?

interesting question, the better question might be could you perceive them as extra arms?

there are plenty of people that cant fully control all the muscles they have, let alone ones that are bolted on after birth
so i'd say you'd probably need some kind of pretty sloppy neural interface that just reads ideas, rather than direct impulses

either that, or reprogram the brain somewhat.. sounds risky

Love how accurately Deus Ex's timeline is rolling out in real life. Wonder how long til the french blow up the statue of liberty...
Anyways, this is very intriguing, I wonder what are the applications besides the standard usage of prosthesis. I imagine the military would love this, it could revolutionize data interpretation, such as avionics output directly to the pilot and so on.
Also: GOOD LORD, THE ADVERTISING POTENTIAL OF AN OPTIC NERVE INPUT IS A TERRIFYING PROSPECT.
Please don't ever advertise on my optic nerve...

Artificial limbs reaching this kind of sophistication? Science has sure come a long way.

I'm really happy we've managed to come to this type of technological advancement. I'm pretty sure a lot of disabled people and amputees will be really grateful for this kind of innovation for them.

On another note, yes, I do think that this can also contribute to a new Planet of the Apes movie. It could even contribute to an actual Planet of the Apes in real life, in which case I will be promptly relocating to Canada.

Wait, once they perfect the brain/computer interface, wouldn't it be possible to completely enter a virtual reality?

Think about it, your brain can sense the environment around you and tell your fake limb where to go, why not have your brain tell your virtual limb where to go in a fake environment? You wouldn't need to replace your limbs to do this, obviously, you would just need the chip.

The possibilities are endless!

trust Milo:
Does this mean that you could give someone extra arms?

Hell yeah, I'll be the first Goro. I could make drinks so fast with four arms. My god.

darthotaku:
this is really cool, not only because it might help the disabled, but because with this technology we could also develope awesome video games. just imagine, you lose a leg in a car accident, and within a short time you are walking normally, then go and use the exact same technology to play your favourite game. That is some awesome science fiction getting closer to science fact.

Only, it wouldn't be "within a short time". No matter how good the leg is, you'd have to learn to use it. You've been walking on your original legs for, what, decades? That's a lot of practice we take for granted, be awhile before you got that level back.

On the other hand, yeah, massive improvement over no leg at all, and you'd adapt eventually.

Videogames? Pft, people don't want to spend time reading the manual, it'd only be useful for serious time sinks.

Before you even consider this cool consider my experience having a brain implant since I was only a few years old, now I am 29 years old. I've been kidnapped, starved, torchered and can only identify the attackers as family members. Everything I have ever seen and done could be recorded. I have two children which I cannot even see. They also have been kidnapped from me on several occasions. My memories can be zapped right out of my brain. Past events of terror and horror replayed at any time. I dont know if I am making love to my girlfriend or a bag of garbage. No doctor will admit I have a brain implant. I have been isolated from society. Everything I have ever bought or earned goes missing and replaced with false items. I look in them mirror and on my occasions see only a swirl over my face. I have been attacked and beaten by invisible people. etc. etc. etc. I just got back from the doctor and instead of treating me for a brain implant I spent a week in the psychiatric ward. I've can never get a job because my brain implant it constantly hacked, money I am given isn't real just looks real. My body can be paused while a party goes on around me and I will never noticed the lost time. Things I smell, touch, hear are not there. My entire body can be remote controlled by unknown people. I can eat a large meal walk out of the house and be starving again because I took me two days to turn the door handle but to me was only a few seconds. When I die the impact I leave on the world and 29 years later the response from friends and community is not in accordance with how I was living. Everyday is a nightmare and a reminder that I will never see my family again and when I do are they there to kill me?

Nothing good can possibly come from a brain implant I am a living example? People call me Ashida, Kenji, Monster, because you need to more than a ninja to survive this long. You will not survive with a brain implant and you will never know if anyone you have ever loved or will love is dead or alive nor what they look like. Whether you are on a tread mill or walking down the city road.

Is my dick really 4ft long or has someone tapped on a frozen rattle snake again? Is that a hat on my head or is it someone's severed head. How about my new shoes I bought are they not the cats ass? Am I wearing clothes or outside naked again. You get the idea. Am I a person or a bucket? Am I popular or are my friends invisible. Am I talking to a doctor or tipped on my side in someones backyard. Where is the manual? How come I have not been taught anything of this implant? Would I really be reading a manual or a playboy. Is that my gun or a CatPisstol. Why does it hurt when I eat this handsandwich? Why doesnt my mother remember making those delicious lady finger cookies at Halloween?

 

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