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October 13, 2003

Advance in Prosthetics

Muddy River pointed out this news about monkeys at Duke University controlling robotic arms using only their thoughts (and an extremely high tech brain implant). Good example of the need for animal testing. Without animal testing, you'd either test this on humans or not at all. The PETA folks would, of course, say that people with spinal injuries should just lie there (or, perhaps preferably, die) in order to save the animals.

OTOH, the researchers say odd things:

The device relies on tiny electrodes, each resembling a wire thinner than a human hair. After removing patches of skull from two monkeys to expose the outer surface of their brains, Nicolelis and his colleagues stuck 96 of those tiny wires about a millimeter deep in one monkey's brain and 320 in the other animal's brain.

The monkeys were unaffected by the 10-hour surgery, Nicolelis said.

"Unaffected." Hmm. The only surgery that leaves anyone unaffected is no surgery at all.

Filed under Technology | permalink | October 13, 2003 at 06:56 AM


Oh, I'm not "doubting' that the monkeys were unaffected. A hole in the skull is a definite "affect." My point was that a more accurate statement would probably have been something like "The monkeys recovered well from the surgery" or "The monkeys seemed happy and in good health."

Posted by: Ron's Log at Oct 13, 2003 8:13:59 AM

You're right in doubting that the monkeys were unaffected. I recall reports of a similar test about a year ago. In this case they were testing the monkeys ability to manipulate a cursor on a computer. At the time, the researchers were wary of the damage that the wires might cause to the surrounding brain tissue over a period of time. It'll be some time before this technology can be used in people. Still interesting, though. Science is catching up with (and sometimes surpassing) science fiction.

Posted by: Joe at Oct 13, 2003 7:17:51 AM

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