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Computerized devices tied into the brain could one day help amputees control prosthetic limbs with their thoughts. Now, University of Florida researchers have gone a step further. Justin Sanchez and his team have devised a brain-machine interface that appears to learn and adapt along with the brain.
Sanchez: “These new technologies allow us to directly interface with the brain. We’re able to implant electrodes into neural tissue, sense that activity, translate that activity into control commands for a computer in the prosthetic arm.”
It all starts with implanting devices into the brain programmed with complex algorithms that interpret thoughts. It could all result in prosthetics that behave more naturally and efficiently.
Sanchez: “Patients that have paralysis or stroke, a variety of movement disorders, or even soldiers returning from Iraq who have lost a limb, could potentially benefit from this kind of technology. They would think about trying to control a prosthetic arm and that arm would move in response to their thoughts.”
And the device that makes that happen will keep learning and adapting along the way.
(See related post: Researchers develop neural implant that learns with the brain)