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 Monkeys Treat Robot Arm as Their Own

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Date posted: 16/05/2005

Rather than simply manipulating device, their brain incorporates it as a normal appendage.

The research stems from the original work led by Miguel Nicolelis at the Duke University Center for Neuroengineering in Durham, North Carolina.

For the new study, Mikhail Lebedev in Nicolelis's laboratory analyzed a mass of brain data that emerged from experiments that the researchers conducted in 2003.

"After these experiments, a major question remained about how the animals' brains adapted," says Nicolelis. "Mikhail analyzed very carefully what happens functionally to the brain cells and the brain cell ensembles in multiple brain areas during this transition, basically we were able to show clearly that a large percentage of the neurons become more 'entrained'?that is, their firing becomes more correlated to the operation of the robot arm than to the animal's own arm."

If this is indeed so, it means that the brain will adapt itself to using a virtual limb, as thou it was born with that capacity, using it as naturally as any other.

The implications for virtual, and augmented environments are of course enormous.

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