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03 June 2008

Paralysed walk in virtual world

Using only his brain waves, a paralysed man was able to manipulate a virtual Internet character to walk on the popular Second Life Web site.

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Using only his brain waves, a paralysed man was able to manipulate a virtual Internet character to walk on the popular Second Life Web site.

Researchers at Keio University in Japan called it a world first and said this kind of activity could help motivate patients with severe paralysis, who are often too depressed to undergo rehabilitation therapy, Agence France-Presse reported.

The 41-year-old man has suffered paralysis for more than 30 years and can barely bend his fingers, making it impossible for him to use a mouse or keyboard.

For this study, he wore a head device with three electrodes that monitored brain waves related to his hands and legs. Using his thoughts, he was able to make his virtual character walk and had a conversation with another character using an attached microphone, AFP reported.

In other another study released last week, scientists have trained monkeys to manipulate a robotic arm solely with brain power – a breakthrough that could soon help amputees and paralysed stroke victims do the same.

Immobilised monkeys with electrode filaments inserted into their cerebral cortex learned in only days to reach out with the free-standing prosthesis, pluck a tasty morsel with a pincer-like claw, and pop it in their mouths.

When the path of the arm - positioned next to the shoulder – was deliberately blocked, the animals simply willed it around the obstacle with their minds, says the study, published in Nature.

The study's findings are the first reported use of a so-called "brain-machine interface" (BMI) to perform a practical action in three dimensions - in this case feeding oneself - purely via brain control of a computerised arm. – (HealthDay News/Sapa)

Read more:
Monkeys control robot with brain

June 2008

 
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