Monkeys Jack-in To Control Virtual Arms

Posted 10 Oct 2011 at 19:45 UTC by steve Share This

According to a Duke University news release, researchers are one step closer to a Brain-Machine-Brain Interface (BMBI) suitable for fitting paralyzed patients with robotic-exoskeletons. Sounds like they're getting closer to a brain interface that will let you jack-in to virtual reality environments too. In the words of the researchers:

Our BMBI demonstrated direct bidirectional communication between a primate brain and an external actuator. Because both the afferent and efferent channels bypassed the subject’s body, we propose that BMBIs can effectively liberate a brain from the physical constraints of the body. Accordingly, future BMBIs may not be limited to limb prostheses but may include devices designed for reciprocal communication among neural structures and with a variety of external actuators.

Monkeys were equipped with the new interface and connected to a simulated environment with a simulated arm. The machine provided sensory input directly to the monkey's brains and the monkeys provided actuation outputs directly to the machine. The researcher's latest results were published in Nature a few days ago as a letter titled "Active tactile exploration using a brain-machine-brain interface" (PDF format). Read on to see video of the results, showing the virtual arms controlled by the monkeys.

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