Oct. 4, 2011 With new cutting-edge technology aimed at providing amputees with robotic limbs, a Tel Aviv University researcher has successfully implanted a robotic cerebellum into the skull of a rodent with brain damage, restoring its capacity for movement.
The cerebellum is responsible for co-ordinating movement, explains Prof. Matti Mintz of TAU's Department of Psychology. When wired to the brain, his "robo-cerebellum" receives, interprets, and transmits sensory information from the brain stem, facilitating communication between the brain and the body. To test this robotic interface between body and brain, the researchers taught a brain-damaged rat to blink whenever they sounded a particular tone. The rat could only perform the behavior when its robotic cerebellum was functional.
According to the researcher, the chip is designed to mimic natural neuronal activity. "It's a proof of the concept that we can record information from the brain, analyze it in a way similar to the biological network, and then return it to the brain," says Prof. Mintz, who recently presented his research at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence meeting in Cambridge, UK.
In the future, this robo-cerebellum could lead to electronic implants that replace damaged tissues in the human brain.
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