Prosthetic hand with a sense of touch

Monkey feels touch with prosthetic hand

prosthetic handA sense of touch lets you connect with loved ones, makes your limbs feel your own, and helps you to interact with your surroundings. But people who are paraplegics or have lost limbs have to navigate the world without this most fundamental of sensory inputs.

Sliman Bensmaia at the University of Chicago, Illinois, is working to change that with a new model for transmitting a sense of touch to the brain that bypasses regular routes. He hopes it will be a blueprint for constructing prosthetics that convey touch in the same way that natural limbs do.

To start, Bensmaia and his colleagues trained rhesus macaques to focus their gaze in different directions depending on whether their index finger or fourth finger were being prodded.

Microelectrodes were then placed in an area of the brain called the primary somatosensory cortex. This area represents an entire map of the body, with each neuron responsible for sensing when a different part of the skin is touched.

Microelectrodes record the activity pattern of neurons. They can also be used in reverse – to deliver electrical stimulation to make neurons fire.

Fourth finger exercise

Next, the team recorded what activity occurred and where it registered in the somatosensory cortex when a monkey had its index or fourth finger poked.

Then they stimulated the brain using the same pattern of activity. The monkeys reacted as if they had been touched – fixing their gaze in the direction they been taught in response to a poke.

In similar experiments, the monkeys were also able to differentiate between pokes of varying strength to a prosthetic hand that transmitted the information to their brain via the microelectrodes.

“Information about location and pressure of a touch is often unavailable visually or is inadequate to guide motor behaviour for people with prosthetics,” Bensmaia says. “But it is crucial. Without it we crush or drop objects in our grasp.”

He hopes that one day prosthetic sensors will be able to transmit signals to implants in humans that dispatch the correct pattern of electrical pulses to the brain to allow them to sense touch. Such prosthetics, he says, will confer a greater feeling of embodiment – the sense that your limbs feel like a part of your body, and foster richer interactions with the environment.

“Maybe this will help a person touch a loved one for the first time,” Bensmaia says. “That’s powerful.”

Though electrode implants has been used in humans, Bensmaia says that hurdles remain. Implants must be safe and durable enough to remain in the brain over a long period of time, as well as adaptable enough to function as a person’s brain changes with age.

Despite the obstacles, Lee Miller at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, says that Bensmaia’s biomimetic approach holds great promise for prosthetics, which have limited sensory capacity at the moment.

“Bensmaia is trying to reproduce a natural pattern of sensory activity and that’s a big distinction,” he says. “The best approach to conveying touch will likely be imitating as faithfully as possible the brain’s own signalling.”

Source | NewScientist

Find us here

Get news from the CSGLOBE in your inbox each weekday morning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

Paid content

The 10 Biggest Dangers Posed By Future Technology

It’s not easy predicting the future of technology. In the fifties it seemed a pretty much foregone conclusion that by 2015 we would all...

This Man One Ups Tesla By Inventing An Electric Car That Never Needs Charging

The concept of the electric car has been around for a very long time, and as with any other world revolutionizing technology, it’s taken...

Harvard Study Proves Why The Bees Are All Disappearing

The human race is really starting to feel the consequences of their actions. One area we are waking up to is the massive amount...

What's New Today

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...

MOST READ

What Is Agenda 21? Depopulation of 95% of the World By 2030

Most people are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program which plans to depopulate 95%...

Alien Base for Giants Discovered in the Bucegi Mountains

In the summer of 2003, in an unexplored area of the Bucegi Mountains, a team from Zero Department (a top secret section of the...

Putin has Banned Rothschild and His New World Order Banking Cartel Family from Entering Russian Territory

As of recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin took yet another decision for his country. "Under any circumstances", the Rothschild family is banned from entering Russian territory. Along...

The 10 Biggest Dangers Posed By Future Technology

It’s not easy predicting the future of technology. In the fifties it seemed a pretty much foregone conclusion that by 2015 we would all...

Scientists Invent Nuclear Waste – Powered Diamond Batteries that Last More than 5,000 Years

A team of physicists and chemists from the University of Bristol have developed nuclear waste–powered radioactive diamond batteries that last more than 5,000 years. The...

Cars Made Out Of & Powered By Hemp Are The Future

Automobile manufacturer Renew has built cars made from carbon-negative hemp material, with the ability to run on hemp ethanol if it ever were to...

Cuttlefish Camouflage May Hold Secret to Invisibility

The cuttlefish is well known for its ability to hide in plain sight by rapidly changing the pattern and colour of its skin -...

China Deploys 150,000 Troops to North Korean Border

With the world waiting to see if the madness in Syria will devolve into a true global conflagration, Korean media reported Monday that China...

Sweden on target to run entirely on renewable energy by 2040

Sweden is on target to run entirely on renewable energy within the next 25 years, a regulatory official has said. Last year, 57 per cent...

Why We’re All Deficient In Magnesium, The Many Signs & What To Do

Signs of magnesium deficiency are everywhere in the United States, if you know what to look for. Unfortunately, the symptoms are so incredibly common...

Marijuana Plant Extract Stops Cancers From Spreading

The Data is Very Strong: Marijuana Plant Extract Stops Cancers From Spreading The data is very strong and there's no toxicity associated with a compound...