Monkeys Control Robotic Arm Just by Thinking

'Science Friday' Video:

Researchers have developed a neural interface for a prosthetic robotic arm that works in real-world situations. Monkeys were able to use the arm to perform tasks such as feeding themselves — and, the researchers say, the monkeys appear to regard the robotic device as part of their own bodies.

Thin, hairlike electrodes are inserted into neuronal pathways in the monkey's motor cortex to pick up brain signals. Software in the interface was able to decode the motor signals in the brains of two monkeys, and use those signals to direct the movement of a human-like robotic arm.

Andrew Schwartz, professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh, explains the research and what it might mean for human prosthetics. The findings were published this week in the journal Nature.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.