Advent of the Robotic Monkeys
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Date posted: 01/11/2004
Posted by: Site Administration
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The Brain

University of Pittsburgh, Andrew Schwartz's neurobiology lab. A monkey, pinned to a bed, unable to move even a muscle, is able to flex its arms, and do with it almost as it pleases. Only thing is, the arm's not physically connected, its being moved by the monkey's thought alone.

"I still think prosthetics is at an early stage ... but this is a big step in the right direction," said Chance Spalding, a bioengineering graduate student who worked on the project.

Similar research has been done before - monkeys operated a virtual limb in June this year bythe same process. However, that time the monkeys did not know what they were doing. This time, researchers were able to let the monkey understand that the limb was now a part of its own body, and could be used as such.

The prosthetic limb has working shoulder and elbow joints and is equipped with a simple gripper to grasp and hold food. Since he monkey's other arms are pinned, they have to use this one to bring food to themselves.

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