Researchers at Harvard University are exploring ways to decode brain signals in the hopes to stimulate nerves of those with SCI/D
“Avatar” has become a common word with online technologies that allow you to create a character that you can control through the Internet.
Recently, researchers at Harvard University have applied the concept to real life.
The team, led by Ziv Williams, a neurosurgeon at the Harvard Medical School found a way to take brain signals from one rhesus monkey, decode them and apply them to the nerves of an unconscious, paralyzed rhesus monkey. The researchers connect the two monkeys with wires from the conscious monkey’s brain to the unconscious monkey’s spinal cord. This allowed the conscious monkey to operate the hand of the unconscious monkey, which was strapped to a joystick operating a computer generated cursor and target for the conscious monkey to try to hit. The study was published in Nature Communications, and now the researchers are hoping to apply their findings to help someone with a spinal-cord injury operate their paralyzed limbs with their brain alone.
“The hope is to create a functional bypass for the damaged spinal cord or brainstem so that patients can control their own bodies,” says Williams.