Friday, January 24, 2014

Studies reveal new avenues which show how brain can be controlled for reach movements

Krishna Shenoy from Stanford University published a paper in the journal Neuron presenting a mathematical analysis of the brain’s anticipated and unanticipated movements through the arms. The study was done on monkeys where the electrical activity of the neurons controlling motor and premotor functions was recorded. Three situations were designed. In first the monkeys were shown the target but trained not to touch until they received the ‘go’ signal. In the second they touched the target as soon as it appeared. In the third the target first appeared in one screen then another forcing the monkeys to change their movement plan. Results showed that perception always occurred first but the brain did not always get into a prepare-hold-go position. Shenoy used the finding to create an electronic system controlling the neuron activity. It will then transmit it into electronic signals which can help a prosthetic arm to do small things. One example is the Brain Gate clinical trial in Stanford which tests safety of brain-controlled, computer cursor systems for immobile people.

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