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...

Did we discover “Alien technology” and reverse-engineer it?

A lot of people have wondered ever since the first reported UFO crash, if we had come into contact with Alien technology. Highly advanced technology...

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%...

Complete List of BANKS Owned/Controlled by the Rothschild Family

What’s the significance of having a central bank within a country and why should you concern yourself, your family and colleagues? Central banks are illegally...

France Declares All New Rooftops Must Be Topped With Plants Or Solar Panels

A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in...

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...

Meet the world’s first walking bike

The Dutch are big on bikes, now they've come up with the Lopifit - an outdoor treadmill rolled into an e-bike. The Lopifit is a...

Could a juiced-up particle accelerator destroy the Earth?

One of the world's largest particle colliders is about to undergo upgrades that will make it considerably more powerful than it is now. The...

Innovative Design Of The Year’ Will Replace Animals In Lab Tests

Bio-inspired micro-devices could potentially replace animal testing and bring new therapies to patients faster and at lower cost in the future The Design Museum in...

The Effects Of Negative Emotions On Our Health

Humans experience an array of emotions, anything from happiness, to sadness to extreme joy and depression. Each one of these emotions creates a different...

Top 10 STRANGEST Planets In The Known Universe

From an ice planet that’s on fire to a strange planet made of solid diamond, we look at 10 of the strangest planets in...

North Dakota Police Arrests Protestants During a strike at Dakota Access Pipeline, Facebook Censors the Video

According to ANTIMEDIA, the release of new information regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline has been in vogue these days. It seems as if the North...

Breaking News: Over-Unity Reactionless Generator Invented In India

“Ere many generations pass; our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point in the universe.” – Nikola Tesla A Reactionless AC...