Restoring the Sense of Touch in Amputees Using Natural Signals of the Nervous System
Research provides blueprint for building neuroprosthetic devices that recreate the sense of touch by directly stimulating the nervous system
Scientists at the University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve University have found a way to produce realistic sensations of touch in two human amputees by directly stimulating the nervous system. The study confirms earlier research on how the nervous system encodes the intensity, or magnitude, of sensations. It is the second of two groundbreaking publications this month by University of Chicago neuroscientist Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, using neuroprosthetic devices to recreate the sense of touch for amputee or quadriplegic patients with “biomimetic” approach that approximates the natural, intact nervous system. On Oct. 13, Bensmaia and a team led by Robert Gaunt, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, announced that for the first time, a paralyzed human patient was able to experience the sense of touch through a robotic arm that he controls with his brain. In that study, researchers interfaced directly with the patient’s brain, through an electrode array implanted in the areas of the brain responsible for hand movements and for touch, which allowed the man to both move the robotic arm and feel objects through it. Click here to read more.
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