Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A blueprint for restoring touch with a prosthetic hand

Date:
October 14, 2013
Source:
University of Chicago Medical Center
Summary:
New research is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain.

New research at the University of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain.
Credit: PNAS, 2013

New research at the University of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain.

The research, published early online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, marks an important step toward new technology that, if implemented successfully, would increase the dexterity and clinical viability of robotic prosthetic limbs.

"To restore sensory motor function of an arm, you not only have to replace the motor signals that the brain sends to the arm to move it around, but you also have to replace the sensory signals that the arm sends back to the brain," said the study's senior author, Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. "We think the key is to invoke what we know about how the brain of the intact organism processes sensory information, and then try to reproduce these patterns of neural activity through stimulation of the brain."

Bensmaia's research is part of Revolutionizing Prosthetics, a multi-year Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project that seeks to create a modular, artificial upper limb that will restore natural motor control and sensation in amputees. Managed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the project has brought together an interdisciplinary team of experts from academic institutions, government agencies and private companies.

Bensmaia and his colleagues at the University of Chicago are working specifically on the sensory aspects of these limbs. In a series of experiments with monkeys, whose sensory systems closely resemble those of humans, they identified patterns of neural activity that occur during natural object manipulation and then successfully induced these patterns through artificial means.

The first set of experiments focused on contact location, or sensing where the skin has been touched. The animals were trained to identify several patterns of physical contact with their fingers. Researchers then connected electrodes to areas of the brain corresponding to each finger and replaced physical touches with electrical stimuli delivered to the appropriate areas of the brain. The result: The animals responded the same way to artificial stimulation as they did to physical contact.

Next the researchers focused on the sensation of pressure. In this case, they developed an algorithm to generate the appropriate amount of electrical current to elicit a sensation of pressure. Again, the animals' response was the same whether the stimuli were felt through their fingers or through artificial means.

Finally, Bensmaia and his colleagues studied the sensation of contact events. When the hand first touches or releases an object, it produces a burst of activity in the brain. Again, the researchers established that these bursts of brain activity can be mimicked through electrical stimulation.

The result of these experiments is a set of instructions that can be incorporated into a robotic prosthetic arm to provide sensory feedback to the brain through a neural interface. Bensmaia believes such feedback will bring these devices closer to being tested in human clinical trials.

"The algorithms to decipher motor signals have come quite a long way, where you can now control arms with seven degrees of freedom. It's very sophisticated. But I think there's a strong argument to be made that they will not be clinically viable until the sensory feedback is incorporated," Bensmaia said. "When it is, the functionality of these limbs will increase substantially."

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health funded this study. Additional authors include Gregg Tabot, John Dammann, Joshua Berg and Jessica Boback from the University of Chicago; and Francesco Tenore and R. Jacob Vogelstein from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Gregg A. Tabot, John F. Dammann, Joshua A. Berg, Francesco V. Tenore, Jessica L. Boback, R. Jacob Vogelstein, and Sliman J. Bensmaia. Restoring the sense of touch with a prosthetic hand through a brain interface. PNAS, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221113110

Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Medical Center. "A blueprint for restoring touch with a prosthetic hand." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131014155638.htm>.
University of Chicago Medical Center. (2013, October 14). A blueprint for restoring touch with a prosthetic hand. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131014155638.htm
University of Chicago Medical Center. "A blueprint for restoring touch with a prosthetic hand." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131014155638.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

AFP (Apr. 19, 2014) — The Nintendo Game Boy celebrates its 25th anniversary Monday and game expert Stephen Upstone says the console can be credited with creating a trend towards handheld gaming devices. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the company will use GPS data from the new Nearby Friends feature for advertising sometime in the future. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Facebook Announces Location-Sharing Feature 'Nearby Friends'

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — Facebook's pending Nearby Friends feature will give users the option to share their nonspecific or specific locations with certain friends. 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:
from the past week

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