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Brain measurements could lead to better devices to move injured or artificial limbs
Date:10/18/2007

is particularly efficient in accomplishing that.

One of the particular drawbacks to the use of the EEG is that nearby electrodes record approximately the same EEG activity, so the gain from employing multiple measurements is limited. A second drawback is that the bulk of the changes recorded in the EEG brain wave occurs after movement and not prior to it, as is required for controlling a paralyzed limb or a robotic arm.

With regard to the fine-wire electrodes, it has been found that, over time, the brain responds to the implanted electrodes by forming glia cells in a process akin to scar formation, with the consequence that a large portion of the brain wave activity is masked.

The approach taken by the Hebrew University scientists entails measuring the activity of all the nerve cells that are located at an intermediate distance (100-200 micrometers) from a recording electrode. In this way, independent measurements can be obtained from many adjacent points. Minor damage to the brain tissue in close proximity to the measurement site scarcely affects the quality of the measurement. Moreover, the measurement remains reliable over a long duration.

In testing the new approach, monkeys were trained to make prehension movements, reaching and grasping various objects located at different positions. Prehension requires coordination between the direction of reach, performed mainly by the arm, and the type of grasp, performed mainly by the fingers. By measuring the activity of populations of nerve cells as outlined above, using no more than 16 electrodes, the upcoming reach direction and grasp type could be predicted at an accuracy of about 90% and, in some cases, at a near-perfect accuracy (above 99%). The prediction errors of the proposed method of measurement were two to three times lower than the errors of predictions based on the other methods of brain activity measurement.

The Hebrew University researchers believe that this
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert

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