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Neural Implant To Give Control of Paralyzed Arms

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-call-it-a-stranger dept.

Biotech 42

An anonymous reader writes "A neural implant that connects to muscle-stimulating electrodes has given monkeys the ability to grasp a ball and drop it into a hole even though the monkey's arm has been anesthetized. The approach is another step towards 'rewiring' the brains and limbs of paralyzed patients. The research, presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago this week, uses a technique called functional electrical stimulation (FES), in which implanted electrodes deliver electrical current to trigger muscle contractions, providing a way to reconnect this loop."

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cool (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29852779)

not as cool as you sucking my cock, though.

Good to see... (2, Interesting)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852807)

With the large number of individuals in the world with amputated limbs, this is nice to see. If only more time and research went into things like this instead of bureaucratic endeavors. Can we change our government to "Scientific Method for the People, By the People"?

Re:Good to see... (2, Insightful)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852893)

ummmm..i dont think that this tech will help much with amputated limbs. but yeah, thats a nice soapbox you got there.

Re:Good to see... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29852993)

What do you call a quadraplegic nigger? Trustworthy!

... but not anymore ...

Re:Good to see... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29853169)

Holy shit, I never expected to see that on slashdot. Are there mods on here? I'm not generally keen on censorship, but that shit is just uncalled for! (ok, I admit I laughed because I love racist jokes), but come on now, that's just wrong!

Re:Good to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29853401)

You must be new here. sadly.

Great for Spinal Cord Injury but... (4, Interesting)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852813)

...not useful for PALS (Person(s) with ALS) where there is no longer a neuromuscular junction (NMJ).

Not a complaint; just an observation before someone gets excited for Professor Hawking.

Re:Great for Spinal Cord Injury but... (3, Informative)

cbnewman (106449) | more than 4 years ago | (#29853785)

Not quite true.

The disorder in ALS is of the corticospinal tract, not the NMJ, but both points are irrelevant in this case. The researchers are decoding cortical signals and translating them drive a mechanical prosthesis. Theoretically, anyone with an intact motor cortex (spinal cord injured patient, as you point out, but also for ALS) should be able to manipulate one of these things.

Pretty cool stuff, but we're years away from anything clinically useful coming out of this because compared to other medical conditions, the research dollars just aren't there (the number of people with diabetes dwarfs all the SCI and amputees easily). Also, we need to figure out a way to use these non-invasively (i.e. outside the head) to avoid the problems with infection and the ethics of justifying an experimental brain surgery on a human...

Re:Great for Spinal Cord Injury but... (1)

SiliconEntity (448450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29854475)

Actually although ALS kills neurons in the spinal cord, these cells extend from there to the muscles. And as the nerves begin to fail, they first withdraw from the muscles. They die from the muscle end back to the central location in the spinal cord. Once the nerves die, muscles atrophy in ALS and eventually shrink away to almost nothing. However I believe that electrical stimulation still works to make the muscles contract. E-stim can maintain muscles in ALS, but normally there is no point since there will be no more nerves connecting to them. However with this new technology it may be possible to make muscles contract electrically, controlled by sensors in the brain.

Re:Great for Spinal Cord Injury but... (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29855221)

Yes, electrical stimulation will work; all exciteable tissue is dependent on voltage gated ion channels.
However, you'll not be able to let the signal ride a nerve to the musce if the NMJ is nonexistant, meaning you have to insert electrodes to the individual muscle fibers to get the adequate fine motor control.

Re:Great for Spinal Cord Injury but... (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859765)

Not quite true. Without the nerve to release acetylcholine, the gates on the muscle fiber won't open. No NMJ no acetylcholine no workee.

Re:Great for Spinal Cord Injury but... (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29859683)

Actually there is a growing body of evidence showing NMJ breakdown prior to axonal defect (which in turn leads to cell body impact). A few years ago a study at U.Wisc-Mad showed complete cell body rescue with intervention but without axonal projection and NMJ link.

Regardless of causation, without NMJs there is no acetylcholine release to stimulate the muscle fiber. You can shock a steak all day long without it jumping.

And I am pretty sure the article was talking about reanimating limbs with the external machines a preliminary step. Total agreement with your last paragraph. A device to control the diaphragm is already getting SCI patients off of tracheotomy ventilation. it is being trialed in PALS to extend the timeline for independent breathing (which I sadly missed by 6 months) and the results are encouraging.

There goes my excuse (4, Funny)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852843)

Now I won't be able to blame Carpal Tunnel anymore. Thanks Science ...thanks a lot!

Re:There goes my excuse (-1, Troll)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852971)

You would think science is your god. You thank Science like a Christian would thank Jesus. Since when was science deserving of a capital S?

Re:There goes my excuse (1)

mrwolf007 (1116997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29853155)

But Carpal Tunnel is his primary god!

Always anestisize your monkey. (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852877)

Before you give it a good spanking.

Re:Always anestisize your monkey. (1)

zindorsky (710179) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852917)

Before you give it a good spanking.

I'd have thought that would be counterproductive ...

Old tech... (1)

Daniel_Abraham (1058448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852885)

Rawhide: Dr. Banzai is using a laser to vaporize a pineal tumor without damaging the parthogenital plate. A subcutaneous microphone will allow the patient to transmit verbal instructions to his own brain. Observer: Like, "raise my left arm"? Rawhide: Or "throw the harpoon." People are gonna come from all over. This boy's an Eskimo.

Got a pussy in my panties (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29852891)

She got a pussy in her panties
She wore a pussy thong

No thanks (1, Funny)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29852991)

I am against neural implants. They just don't feel as good as natural nerves.

Re:No thanks (1)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29919721)

Well I never! You sure have a lot of nerve!

Attention: My crotch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29853015)

Dance, puppet, dance!

A Step Backward (4, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29853045)

Whether ignoring it or ignorant of it, the present research is not "another step towards 'rewiring' the brains and limbs of paralyzed patients", it's a step back from that very use.

Christopher Reeve credited FES with helping to regain what function and sensation he did.

Thew earliest use I know of was the case presented on 60 Minutes where a paralyzed woman had EMG signals produced by a bicycle-like device that would have been called FES had it had a name that long ago. These were recorded and later played back amplified into her muscles to artificially produce walking. She told Dan Rather than she would walk again within a year, and would walk down the aisle to get married. He reported on CBS Evening News only a month later that she had done exactly that. This was probably around 30 years ago because the stimulation/recording/playback was controlled by a shiny new Apple II computer.

Re:A Step Backward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29853779)

when I actually RTFA (crazy, I know), it seems really unsophisticated.

If it isn't using viral vectors and fiber optics then it isn't cutting edge.

You should check a similar post from a day or two ago, optogenetics is crazy as shit.

Re:A Step Backward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29854451)

FYI for folks who don't know, FES is Functional Electrical Stimulation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_electrical_stimulation

I wanted to make a bionic frog (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29853231)

... for a science fair project in seventh grade. My plan was to amputate a frog's legs, then replace them with electromechanical legs that had electrodes hooked up to its nerves.

I am glad I never carried about my dastardly plan. When I think of it now my mind reels with the thought of the suffering that poor creature would have endured.

But I did learn a great deal about frog anatomy as well as the histories of biology and medicine. My mother encouraged this project as her father was a surgeon.

More proof? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29853443)

Its the programmers fault. Why wouldnt a perfect being take into account redundant systems. Dont worry, we can fix "his" mistakes. Software based and all...

easier way (2, Funny)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29853753)

has given monkeys the ability ...

If you have a paralyzed limb and are on a budget, train the monkeys to fetch things for you instead. Problem solved, and you even got bonus company!

Just in time for halloween! (1)

Thantik (1207112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29853873)

Just in time for http://i.imgur.com/cKc4n.gif [imgur.com]

That guys never going to get his double-leg amputee now.

Re:Just in time for halloween! (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#29854137)

you've just been waiting to post that havn't you.

Inspirational monkey (1)

nanostuff (1224482) | more than 4 years ago | (#29854031)

Kudos to the monkey. If I found myself in a tiny box and without feeling in my arm, the last thing on my mind would be earning rewards.

Achievement points, maybe.

Bullwinkle, that trick never works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29854975)

I'm sorry to douse the enthusiasm, but there have been attempts to tap nerves for motor control for decades. Like tapping a telephone by hammering a crowbar into a bundle of telephone lines, the ability to detect and use the signals for controlling a specific limb's movement in any detail has turned out to be very difficult. Your electrodes are basically stuck in a medium of salt water, collecting signals from every nerve nearby, and the signal is typically very noisy indeed. (I used to design stimulation electronics for such electrodes.)

Gross motor control was possible with old myo-electric skin electrode techniques for many years, safely. But the amount of confusing electrical signal is so large that you basically have to sample the signal for at least half a second to verify that the signal is real. Half a second delay is tremendous in fine motor control: I'll be very surprised indeed if this technique is ever effective enough to allow more than gross movement, and implanting cortical electrodes is begging for surgical danger. Like many other medical technologies and a lot of dotcom startups, this is another case of some idiot getting funding to take up an exciting idea that didn't work the last dozen times it was tried, either.

No science, just pain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29855821)

Just f__k off disabled. It really doesn't worth to do this research. It is extremely cruel to animals. It has clearly dead end. It is impossible develop technology that would implant something into brain without damaging sorrounding tissues and without affecting brain work. Why they don't test this stupid cyborg fu___ing devices on humans? Sensles idiotic research like all others (RC bug etc.) that are posted here. I hate them.

Re:No science, just pain. (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#29856455)

OSHI..PETA INVASION!

Re:No science, just pain. (1)

Bentov (993323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29862047)

...It is extremely cruel to animals......Why they don't test this stupid cyborg fu___ing devices on humans?

When did humans stop being animals themselves? People like you make me laugh, you have no idea the number of products we(and yes "we' includes "you" ) use that are animal derived or animal tested. You think that the products you buy that say not tested on animals actually are not tested on animals? Only some of them. The others are tested by companies who specialize in animals testing so the company that makes your product doesn't have to test it themselves. It's just one of the legalese loopholes that companies utilize. To quote a comedian I heard years ago. If shocking a monkey is going to save a human life, I've got two things to say. "Red is positive. Black is negative." I'm outta here, off to eat a rare steak, while wearing my baby seal fur slippers...

Re:No science, just pain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29863309)

I am absolutely informed about testing on animal. So when I go to the shop I am trying not to buy anything that could have been tested on animals. Sometimes it is imposible to determine wheter the broduct was or was not tested on animals. And sometimes you have no choice because medicine is always tested. And i hate it.

Re:No science, just pain. (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#29866169)

And we hate you.

Sure Cyborg Monkey can drop a ball in a hole (1)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 4 years ago | (#29861791)

But can he love?!?

Star Wars limbs, anyone? (1)

Nakarti (572310) | more than 4 years ago | (#29864713)

Seriously, that's the first thing this made me think of, when combined with the 'sensing' robot designs.

It looks like we'll have Star Wars-universe limbs well before we have the energy weapons and light-speed travel.

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