New prosthetic arm controlled by neural messages

August 6, 2014, Investigación y Desarrollo

Controlling a prosthetic arm by just imagining a motion may be possible through the work of Mexican scientists at the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV), who work in the development of an arm replacement to identify movement patterns from brain signals.

First, it is necessary to know if there is a memory pattern to remember in the amputee's in order to know how it moved and, thus, translating it to instructions for the prosthesis," says Roberto Muñoz Guerrero, researcher at the Department of Electrical Engineering and project leader at Cinvestav.

He explains that the electric signal won't come from the muscles that form the stump, but from the of the brain. "If this phase is successful, the patient would be able to move the prosthesis by imagining different movements."

However, Muñoz Guerrero acknowledges this is not an easy task because the brain registers a wide range of activities that occur in the human body and from all of them, the movement pattern is tried to be drawn. "Therefore, the first step is to recall the patterns in the EEG and define there the memory that can be electrically recorded. Then we need to evaluate how sensitive the signal is to other external shocks, such as light or blinking."

Regarding this, it should be noted that the prosthesis could only be used by individuals who once had their entire arm and was amputated because some accident or illness. Patients were able to move the arm naturally and stored in their memory the process that would apply for the use of the prosthesis.

According to the researcher, the prosthesis must be provided with a mechanical and electronic system, the elements necessary to activate it and a section that would interpret the . "Regarding the material with which it must be built, it has not yet been fully defined because it must weigh between two and three kilograms, which is similar to the missing arm's weight."

The unique prosthesis represents a new topic in bioelectronics called BCI (Brain Computer Interface), which is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device in order to help or repair sensory and motor functions. "An additional benefit is the ability to create motion paths for the , which is not possible with commercial products," says Muñoz Guerrero.

Explore further: Advanced prosthetic arm is approved for US market

Related Stories

Advanced prosthetic arm is approved for US market

May 9, 2014
US regulators on Friday approved for market a new kind of prosthetic arm that allows a person to flex certain muscles in order to perform complex tasks.

Neural interface for prosthesis can restore function in motor control brain areas

August 20, 2012
Amputation disrupts not only the peripheral nervous system but also central structures of the brain. While the brain is able to adapt and compensate for injury in certain conditions, in amputees the traumatic event prevents ...

Researchers develop ultramodern forearm prosthesis

February 12, 2014
Researchers of the University of Twente (UT) and Roessingh Research and Development (RRD) have developed a system which can significantly improve the functionality of forearm prostheses. Using the activity still present in ...

The quest for the bionic arm

June 3, 2014
In the past 13 years, nearly 2,000 veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with injuries requiring amputations; 14 percent of those injured veterans required upper extremity amputations. To treat veterans with upper extremity ...

Recommended for you

A 'touching sight': How babies' brains process touch builds foundations for learning

January 16, 2018
Touch is the first of the five senses to develop, yet scientists know far less about the baby's brain response to touch than to, say, the sight of mom's face, or the sound of her voice.

Researchers identify protein involved in cocaine addiction

January 16, 2018
Mount Sinai researchers have identified a protein produced by the immune system—granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)—that could be responsible for the development of cocaine addiction.

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

New study reveals why some people are more creative than others

January 16, 2018
Creativity is often defined as the ability to come up with new and useful ideas. Like intelligence, it can be considered a trait that everyone – not just creative "geniuses" like Picasso and Steve Jobs – possesses in ...

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds

January 16, 2018
Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the ...

Brain imaging predicts language learning in deaf children

January 15, 2018
In a new international collaborative study between The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, researchers created a machine learning algorithm that uses brain scans to predict ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.