Harvard scientists have taken their mind-control technology to a new level. Their research, published in “Nature,” detailed how a monkey’s brain stimulated the spinal cord of a monkey avatar, which resulted in movement.
Damages to a spinal cord can cause the information flow to be halted from the brain to limbs. However, with this new technology, researchers are hoping to bridge the communication from the brain to the damaged spinal cord.
Harvard researchers did not paralyze a monkey in order to conduct their tests, but used a sedated monkey and another monkey they referred to as the master monkey. Researchers put a chip in the master’s head that could monitor the brain activity of up to 100 neurons.
The avatar had 36 electrodes implanted along the spinal cord. The researchers conducted the tests to see which stimulation between a combination of different electrodes would perform which movement in the avatar.
In 98 percent of the tests, the master monkey could successfully control the avatar’s arm.
Researchers said their goal is to bypass any injury made to the brain stem and the spinal cord to give back mobility to patients experiencing paralysis.
Although this may seem similar to James Cameron’s movie “Avatar,” researchers said that kind of technology is well into the future.