Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Paralyzed man uses thoughts alone to control robot arm, touch friend's hand, after seven years

Date:
February 8, 2013
Source:
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Summary:
Researchers have described how an electrode array on top of the brain enabled a 30-year-old man to control the movement of a character on a computer screen in three dimensions with just his thoughts. It also enabled him to reach out with a robot arm to touch a friend's hand for the first time in the seven years since he was paralyzed.

ECoG electrode location mapped to a 3D rendering of the participant's brain. Red dots represent ECoG electrodes, and Electrodes 1 and 32 are labeled to indicate grid orientation. The black arrow indicates the central sulcus (CS) of the left hemisphere.
Credit: Wei Wang et al. An Electrocorticographic Brain Interface in an Individual with Tetraplegia. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (2): e55344 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055344

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC describe in PLoS ONE how an electrode array sitting on top of the brain enabled a 30-year-old paralyzed man to control the movement of a character on a computer screen in three dimensions with just his thoughts. It also enabled him to move a robot arm to touch a friend's hand for the first time in the seven years since he was injured in a motorcycle accident.

Related Articles


With brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, the thoughts of Tim Hemmes, who sustained a spinal cord injury that left him unable to move his body below the shoulders, were interpreted by computer algorithms and translated into intended movement of a computer cursor and, later, a robot arm, explained lead investigator Wei Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pitt School of Medicine.

"When Tim reached out to high-five me with the robotic arm, we knew this technology had the potential to help people who cannot move their own arms achieve greater independence," said Dr. Wang, reflecting on a memorable scene from September 2011 that was re-told in stories around the world. "It's very important that we continue this effort to fulfill the promise we saw that day."

Six weeks before the implantation surgery, the team conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of Mr. Hemmes' brain while he watched videos of arm movement. They used that information to place a postage stamp-size electrocortigraphy (ECoG) grid of 28 recording electrodes on the surface of the brain region that fMRI showed controlled right arm and hand movement. Wires from the device were tunneled under the skin of his neck to emerge from his chest where they could be connected to computer cables as necessary.

For 12 days at his home and nine days in the research lab, Mr. Hemmes began the testing protocol by watching a virtual arm move, which triggered neural signals that were sensed by the electrodes. Distinct signal patterns for particular observed movements were used to guide the up and down motion of a ball on a computer screen. Soon after mastering movement of the ball in two dimensions, namely up/down and right/left, he was able to also move it in/out with accuracy on a 3-dimensional display.

"During the learning process, the computer helped Tim hit his target smoothly by restricting how far off course the ball could wander," Dr. Wang said. "We gradually took off the 'training wheels,' as we called it, and he was soon doing the tasks by himself with 100 percent brain control."

The robot arm was developed by Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. Currently, Jan Scheuermann, of Whitehall, Pa., is testing another BCI technology at Pitt/UPMC.

Co-authors of the paper include Jennifer L. Collinger, Ph.D., Alan D. Degenhart, Andrew B. Schwartz, Ph.D., Douglas J. Weber, Ph.D., Brian Wodlinger, Ph.D., Ramana K. Vinjamuri, Ph.D., and Robin C. Ashmore, Ph.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh; Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael L. Boninger, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC; Daniel W. Moran, Ph.D., of Washington University in St. Louis; and John W. Kelly, of Carnegie Mellon University.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, the University of Pittsburgh's Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and UPMC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wei Wang, Jennifer L. Collinger, Alan D. Degenhart, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, Andrew B. Schwartz, Daniel W. Moran, Douglas J. Weber, Brian Wodlinger, Ramana K. Vinjamuri, Robin C. Ashmore, John W. Kelly, Michael L. Boninger. An Electrocorticographic Brain Interface in an Individual with Tetraplegia. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (2): e55344 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055344

Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Paralyzed man uses thoughts alone to control robot arm, touch friend's hand, after seven years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130208124818.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2013, February 8). Paralyzed man uses thoughts alone to control robot arm, touch friend's hand, after seven years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130208124818.htm
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. "Paralyzed man uses thoughts alone to control robot arm, touch friend's hand, after seven years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130208124818.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins