MrSeb writes: "Scientists at Northwestern University in Chicago, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, have successfully bypassed the spinal cord and restored fine motor control to paralyzed limbs using a brain-computer interface. The researchers have created a neuroprosthesis that combines a brain-computer interface (BCI) that’s wired directly into 100 neurons in the motor cortex of the subject, and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device that’s wired into the muscles of the subject’s arm. When the subject tries to move his arm or hand, that cluster of around 100 neurons activates, creating a stream of data which can then be read and analyzed by the BCI to predict what muscles the subject is trying to move, and with what level of force. The end result is a computer network that effectively replaces the nervous system and restores remarkably accurate fine motor control to a paralyzed arm. The subject, in this case, was a rhesus monkey rather than a human — but our anatomy is very, very similar to that of our primate cousins. The research paper notes that, worldwide, 130,000 people per year sustain spinal cord injury — with half of those becoming paralyzed from the neck down. Many of these could be helped with such a neuroprosthesis."
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