Leyla Raiani
Apr 20, 2012

New brain-machine interface moves a paralyzed hand

Created at Apr 19, 2012, 6:25pm PDT

A new brain-machine developed at Northwestern Medicine delivers messages from the brain directly to the muscles -- bypassing the spinal cord -- to enable voluntary and complex movement of a paralyzed hand. The device could eventually be tested on, and perhaps aid, paralyzed patients. This connection from brain to muscles might someday be used to help patients paralyzed due to spinal cord injury perform activities of daily living and achieve greater independence. The research was done in monkeys, whose electrical brain and muscle signals were recorded by implanted electrodes when they grasped a ball, lifted it and released it into a small tube. Those recordings allowed the researchers to develop an algorithm or ‘decoder’ that enabled them to process the brain signals and predict the patterns of muscle activity when the monkeys wanted to move the ball.