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Monkey Robot Army

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center implanted electrodes in a monkey's brain, then set it on a mini treadmill and got it walking. Signals from the electrodes were able to control a robot and cause it to walk.

"We can read signals from cortical areas...the motor and sensory areas of the brain that are involved in the generation of the motor program to walk," says Duke neuroscientist Miguel A. L. Nicolelis. "And we are able to read these signals, decode them, and send them to a device...a bipedal robot that actually starts walking like a monkey."
The goal of Nicolelis and his colleagues is to pave the way for real-time direct interfaces between a brain and electronic and mechanical devices that could be used to restore sensory and motor functions lost through injury or disease. "Our hope is that one day soon," Nicolelis and his former postdoctoral fellow Sidarta Ribeiro wrote in a December 2006 Scientific American article entitled "Seeking the Neural Code," "we will also master sufficient syntax to talk back to the brain, which would allow us, for example, to build a human prosthetic arm laden with sensors to send tactile feedback into the somatosensory cortex of its user."

There's a YouTube video here. Although, for the most part, the commenters seem to be raving idiots, i, too, am curious as to just what was done to the monkey. They did say the electrodes were implanted in the monkey's brain, not just placed on the outside of her skull with some of the gel stuff. Does she now have tubes sticking out of her head? If she does, she would totally be within her rights to gain control of the robot and use it to reap her fiery revenge.

By min | March 20, 2008, 11:52 AM | Science


Where's my journalistic credit for reporting on this over a year ago?