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Wed, Nov 26
Monkeys steer wheelchairs with their brains
Experimental wheelchairs and exoskeletons controlled by thought alone offer surprising insights into the brain, neuroscientists reported on Monday.
Best known for his experimental exoskeleton that helped a paralyzed man kick the opening ball for June’s World Cup in Brazil, Duke University neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis presented the latest “brain-machine interface” findings from his team’s “Walk Again Project” at the Society for Neuroscience meeting.
“Some of our patients say they feel they are walking on sand,” says Nicolelis, describing pilot research in which eight paralyzed patients walked using a robotic exoskeleton that moved in response to readings of the patients’ brain waves. “We are actually fooling the brain of patients to think it is not a machine carrying them, but they feel they are themselves walking forward.”