Good morning all,
In recent weeks, our lab exercises have considered EEGs, sensory function, as well as muscle control. In the news this week is a report that links all of these, in a way that may prove to be revolutionary for those with spinal injuries.
Recall that from an EEG, one can evaluate the activity in underlying neural tissue. You also will remember our diverse tests of sensory systems, which were good reminders of how broad and how important our sensory capabilities are. Most recently, we discussed how action potentials in motor neurons can be used to activate skeletal muscle.
Researchers have managed to marry all of these elements in new technology that is a real-life version of something from science fiction: a robotic suit. They have used sensory receivers and brain implants to allow a paralyzed man to control this suit, enabling him to walk for the first time in years. The subject received bran implants into his motor cortex, which recorded his motor signals. Because of his spinal injury, these signals could not be relayed to his muscles through the spine. Here, the signals were routed to electronic equipment, and then to prosthetic limbs. It look a lot of practice learning how to associate his own thoughts into the motions of his prosthetics, and there is much about the device yet to be improved, but the result remains extraordinary.
We live in a world in which advances in neuroscience and advances in technology occur at a rapid pace, and their intersections are often astonishing, and fruitful.
Have a great weekend -