November 15, 2000

          Monkey Brain Controls Distant Robot  Movement

          By REUTERS

              LONDON, Nov 15 - Brain signals from a  monkey in a laboratory in North Carolina
          have been used to control the movement of a  robot arm over the Internet at a university 600
          miles away, American scientists said on Wednesday.

          They believe the experiment could form the
          basis of brain-interface machines that could
          allow paralysed patients to move prosthetic limbs.

          ``It was an amazing sight to see the robot in my lab move, knowing that it
          was being driven by signals from a monkey brain at Duke,'' Mandayam
          Srinivasan, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a
          statement.

          ``It was as if the monkey had a 600-mile-long virtual arm.''

          Scientists from MIT and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina,
          implanted electrodes in the monkey's brain and recorded the brain
          activity as the animal learned tasks and moved its limbs.

          In a study in the science journal Nature, they described how they fed the
          information into a computer and used mathematical methods to predict
          hand trajectories in real-time as the monkeys learned to make different
          types of hand movements.

          After the scientists were convinced the computer analysis could predict
          hand trajectory from brain signal patterns, they used the brain signals
          from the monkey as processed by the computer to allow the animal to
          control a robot arm.

          ``When we initially conceived the idea of using monkey brain signals to
          control a distant robot across the Internet, we were not sure how
          variable delays in signal transmission would affect the outcome...it
          worked out beautifully,'' said Srinivasan.

          Miguel Nicolelis, a professor of neurobiology at Duke, said the system
          offered hope of restoring some motor function for paralysed patients.
 



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