Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

Paralyzed Monkey Regains Muscle Control

Scientists have managed to restore, in a monkey, voluntary muscle control to an anesthetized muscle by artificially connecting cortical neurons to the muscle. The monkeys were trained beforehand to control the activity of single neuronal cells. The scientists implanted electrodes in their motor cortex which detected neuronal activity, and by linking to a computer these signals resulted in the movement of a cursor on a screen. They then let the monkeys play a target practice game on the screen by using the cursor, and when they got good at it, the researchers paralyzed the monkeys wrist muscles. They then attached electrodes to the paralyzed muscles and made it so that cursor movement on the screen translated to electrical stimulation in the wrist. The monkeys were then able to control the movements of the otherwise paralyzed muscles, and regain control of their wrist. This is really cool, because it shows that you can basically train any part of your, in this case, motor cortex to control any given muscle when attached to this set-up, which means that you don’t have to poke around looking for the exact cells that previously were used to control the now paralyzed muscle. This is a really cool step towards treating paralysis.

Macaca nemestrina, the monkey used in this research.

The research was done by Moritz et al., and the original paper can be found here.


October 16, 2008 - Posted by | General Science, Medicine | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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