Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain prostheses create a sense of touch: Infrared signaling could create sense of touch in artificial limbs

Date:
February 17, 2013
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Infrared sensing might be built into a whole-body prosthesis for paraplegics so patients wearing the "exoskeleton" could have sensory information about where their limbs are and how objects feel when they touch them.

Adult rats can learn to perceive otherwise invisible infrared light through a neuroprosthesis that couples the output of a head-mounted infrared sensor to their somatosensory cortex (S1) via intracortical microstimulation.
Credit: Image courtesy of Nicolelis Lab, Duke University

Rats can't usually see infrared light, but they have "touched" it in a Duke University lab.

The rats sensed the light as a sensation of touch after Duke neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis and his team fitted the animals with an infrared detector wired to electrodes implanted in the part of the mammalian brain that processes information related to the sense of touch.

One of the main flaws of current human, brain-controlled prosthetics is that patients cannot sense the texture of what they touch, Nicolelis said. His goal is to give quadriplegics not only the ability to move their limbs again, but also to sense the texture of objects placed in their hands or experience the nuances of the terrain under their feet.

His lab studies how to connect brain cells with external electrodes for brain-machine interfaces and neural prosthetics in human patients and non-human primates, giving them the ability to control limbs, both real and virtual, using only their minds. He and his team have shown that monkeys, without moving any part of their real bodies, could use their electrical brain activity to guide the virtual hands of an avatar to touch virtual objects and recognize their simulated textures.

His latest study, published Feb. 12 in Nature Communications, shows that the rats' cortexes respond both to the simulated sense of touch created by the infrared light sensors and to whisker touch, as if the cortex is dividing itself evenly so that the brain cells process both types of information.

This plasticity of the brain counters the current "optogenetic" approach to brain stimulation, which suggests that a particular neuronal cell type should be stimulated to generate a desired neurological function. Instead, stimulating a broader range of cell types might help a cortical region adapt to new sensory sources, Nicolelis said.

His team recently documented the firing patterns of nearly 2,000 individual, interconnected neurons in monkeys. Recording the electrical activity from thousands of neurons at once is important for improving the accuracy and performance of neuroprosthetic devices, he said.

This brain-machine interface work is all part of an international effort called the Walk Again Project to build a whole-body exoskeleton that could help paralyzed people regain motor and sensory abilities using brain activity to control the apparatus. He and his collaborators expect to first use the exoskeleton in the opening ceremony of the FIFA Soccer World Cup in June 2014.

Nicolelis said infrared sensing might be built into such an exoskeleton so patients wearing the suit could have sensory information about where their limbs are and how objects feel when they touch them.

Nicolelis is a professor of neurobiology, biomedical engineering and psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. He is also founder of Duke's Center for Neuroengineering. He earned his M.D. from the University of Sao Paulo Medical School and his Ph.D. from the Institute of Biomedical Science at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Eric E. Thomson, Rafael Carra, Miguel A.L. Nicolelis. Perceiving invisible light through a somatosensory cortical prosthesis. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1482 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2497
  2. Joseph E. O’Doherty, Mikhail A. Lebedev, Peter J. Ifft, Katie Z. Zhuang, Solaiman Shokur, Hannes Bleuler, Miguel A. L. Nicolelis. Active tactile exploration using a brain–machine–brain interface. Nature, 2011; 479 (7372): 228 DOI: 10.1038/nature10489
  3. L. E. Medina, M. A. Lebedev, J. E. O'Doherty, M. A. L. Nicolelis. Stochastic Facilitation of Artificial Tactile Sensation in Primates. Journal of Neuroscience, 2012; 32 (41): 14271 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3115-12.2012
  4. Peter J. Ifft, Mikhail A. Lebedev, Miguel A. L. Nicolelis. Reprogramming movements: extraction of motor intentions from cortical ensemble activity when movement goals change. Frontiers in Neuroengineering, 2012; 5 DOI: 10.3389/fneng.2012.00016

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Brain prostheses create a sense of touch: Infrared signaling could create sense of touch in artificial limbs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217084121.htm>.
Duke University. (2013, February 17). Brain prostheses create a sense of touch: Infrared signaling could create sense of touch in artificial limbs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217084121.htm
Duke University. "Brain prostheses create a sense of touch: Infrared signaling could create sense of touch in artificial limbs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130217084121.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Protect Against Piracy ... At A Cost

Google To Protect Against Piracy ... At A Cost

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Google is changing its search-engine results to protect content producers from piracy — for a price. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Microsoft will reportedly release a smartwatch that works across different mobile platforms, has a two-day battery life and tracks heart rate. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Spotify Family A Great Deal Or Catching Up?

Is Spotify Family A Great Deal Or Catching Up?

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Spotify Family lets you add a family member to your account for half price. Although users are excited, it's a move competitors have already made. 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


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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