Neuroprosthetic enables monkey to activate paralyzed muscles

Monkeys outfitted with neural implants have learned to control temporarily paralyzed muscles in their arms. So instead of controlling a robot arm with its mind, the monkey controls its own muscles that have become "disconnected" from its brain. The research, conducted by the University of Washington and the Washington National Primate Research Center, is a step forward in the development of technology that routes around a damaged spine, enabling a patient to once again manipulate paralyzed body parts. From IEEE Spectrum:
In exchange for a reward of applesauce, the monkeys had been conditioned to create just the right amount of torque in their wrists to move a cursor on a display so that it hit a target. To conduct the experiments, the researchers used anesthesia to block signals in a nerve just below the shoulder of a monkey’s arm, temporarily paralyzing the rest of the limb. The brain cells that control wrist movement were still firing in response to the monkey’s desire to hit the target and get the payoff, but with the neural connection shut down, the wrist remained limp. The scientists implanted electrodes into the monkey’s motor cortex and fed the electrical signals they received from the monkey’s brain into a computer. The computer then translated the signals into a stimulating current that was fed to electrodes implanted below the nerve block in the monkey’s wrist. The monkeys were able to learn to manipulate their own brains to get their wrists moving.
New Brain-Machine Interface Reactivates Monkey's Paralyzed Muscles


  1. This has been going on since the eighties. It has been used on human patients with paralyzed legs in addition to animal experimentation.

    The problems that this study had not intention of fixing:

    1:You have to implant electrodes in someone’s brain.
    2:They have to wear electrodes on their legs.

    3: Putting a lot of voltage into someone’s quadriceps and hamstring means their leg will jerk up and if you are really careful, maybe they can stand. It does not mean that they will be able to retain their balance, which requires a huge number of muscles in the back, buttocks, and legs.

    If you think about moving around a mouse, which is about the capability of current brain-interface hardware, you have three degrees of freedom, up and down, left and right, click and not click.

    In order to stand up a human being you need about fifteen degrees of freedom. Since you learned it when you were ~1 year old, you probably don’t even think about it.

    Human-brain interface = fantasy novel.

  2. This is awesome. Yet another step along the way to prostheses with the same finesse of motion as natural limbs; another step towards extending ourselves beyond the flesh.

  3. “the researchers used anesthesia to block signals in a nerve just below the shoulder of a monkey’s arm, temporarily paralyzing the rest of the limb.”

    Pah! In my day we’d have had the limb off toot sweet! I don’t know, these poncy new-agers call themselves scientists! I’ll wager not one of them has a proper bone saw in his kit! Bloody milquetoast wowsers the lot of thm! (retires muttering with glass of crusted port and starts fumbling in gorilla head humidor for cigar)

  4. In conclusion, monkeys will make use of any technological means available to acquire applesauce. Sometimes science gives us some truly fascinating insights.

  5. I’m glad they are doing this. One day a child will see a picture of a wheelchair and say: “What’s that?”

  6. In exchange for a reward of applesauce…

    If only that applied to non-monkey cyborg things.

    Takuan “One day a child will see a picture of a wheelchair and say: ‘What’s that?'”
    One day, hopefully… Coming before that, unfortunately, there will be the poor kid in the wheelchair looking at the rich kid walking around, saying much the same thing. Also, there is and will continue to be the third world kid on the floor, looking at both them and saying that.

    In exchange for a reward of applesauce…

    I typed that again for no reason whatsoever, other than the fact that the phrase amuses me deep down in my giggle place.

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