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Technology Advance Could Help Paralyzed

It's a better way of translating brain signals for prosthetic devices

FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers say they've developed a new tool for creating prosthetic devices that convert brain signals into movement for patients who've been paralyzed or lost limbs.

A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published its findings in the October issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

The group said their new algorithm merges seemingly dissimilar approaches taken by other research groups that prototype neural prosthetic devices in humans or animals.

"The work represents an important advance in our understanding of how to construct algorithms in neural prosthetic devices for people who cannot move to act or speak," study author Lakshminarayan Srinivasan, who started work on the approach while a graduate student in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Currently, Srinivasan is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Nervous System Repair at Massachusetts General Hospital and a medical student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

He noted that researchers working to develop neural prosthetics have used different algorithms depending on the method they used to measure brain activity. This new algorithm is applicable no matter what brain measurement technique is used.

"We don't need to reinvent a new paradigm for each modality or brain region," Srinivasan said.

More information

The Society for Neuroscience has more about robotic limbs.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, news release, Oct. 3, 2007

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