A Breakthrough on Paralysis? 'Brain Machine' Brainchild of UW ScientistsBy Paulson, Tom; Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
Publication Date: October 16, 2008
Article describes a brain-computer interface that restores the severed connection between brain and limb in paralysis. Developed at the University of Washington, the device prototype was tested on two macaque monkeys who were given nerve-blocking injections to cause temporary paralysis of their arms, after which electrodes were surgically implanted to connect with neurons known to govern arm and hand movements. Wires were run connecting the brain to the monkeys’ wrists via a portable device the size of a cell phone. The device, which used two circuit boards and fairly simple linear mathematics, transformed brain signals into electrical signals that could stimulate muscle cells in the monkeys’ wrists. The monkeys were then encouraged to twist their paralyzed wrists in prescribed ways the researchers could measure and reward. The monkeys learned to make these connections within 10 to 30 minutes. In addition, they were able to move their wrists even when the electrodes were connected to random neurons in the brain not associated with governing arm or hand movements. The scientists caution that more research is needed to see how well this approach will work in paralyzed people whose limbs may have atrophied.
Published by: Hearst Corp.
Link to text: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/383370_brainmachine16.html