New research at the University of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (open access) marks an important step toward new technology that, if implemented successfully, would increase the dexterity and clinical viability of robotic prosthetic limbs.
“To restore sensory motor function of an arm, you not only have to replace the motor signals that the brain sends to the arm to move it around, but you also have to replace the sensory signals that the arm sends back to the brain,” said the study’s senior author, Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago.
“We think the key is to invoke what we know about how the brain of the intact organism processes sensory information, and then try to reproduce these patterns of neural activity through stimulation of the brain.”
(visual credit: PNAS)
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