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Power of Thought Could Help Paralyzed Move

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Once the researchers determined that the computer analysis could reliably predict hand trajectory from brain signal patterns, they used the brain signals from the monkeys as processed by the computer to allow the animals to control a robot arm.

"The basic science question we are asking is, how is it that from an electrical pattern of activity we obtain a particular behavior or a particular sensation?'' Duke researcher Miguel Nicolelis, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. "We are beginning to learn the answer to this question, but it is a slow process. My most optimistic prediction is that we could see human trials within the next 10 years."

Nicolelis says the Duke team plans to spend the next five years conducting further primate studies, designed to investigate how the brain processes information. ""Eventually," he says, "we should be able to establish a reciprocal interaction whereby the brain controls the movements of the robot, and the robot sends information to tell the brain what it is doing."


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