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Scientists restore movement to paralyzed limbs through artificial brain-muscle connections
Date:10/16/2008

esimproved significantly with practice. Practice time was limited by the duration of the nerve block. Comparing the monkeys' performance during an initial two-minute practice and a two-minute peak performance period, the scientists found the monkeys successfully hit the target three times more frequently and with less error during the peak performance. In the future, greater control could be gained by using implanted circuits to create long-lasting artificial connections, allowing more time for learning and optimizing control, Dr. Fetz says.

The researchers also found that the monkeys could achieve independent control of both the wrist flexor and extensor muscles.

"An important next step will be to increase the number of direct connections between cortical cells and muscles to control coordinated activation of muscles," says Dr. Fetz.

If researchers are able to establish a connection between the motor cortex and sites in the spinal cord below the injury, people with spinal injuries may be able to achieve coordinated movements.

Clinical applications are still probably at least a decade away, according to Dr. Fetz. Better methods for recording cortical neurons and for controlling multiple muscles must be developed, along with implantable circuitry that could be used reliably and safely, he says.


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Contact: Lisa Gough
goughll@ninds.nih.gov
301-496-5751
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Source:Eurekalert

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