Monday, April 30, 2012

Can an Algorithm Replace Your Spinal Cord? | IdeaFeed | Big Think

Viterbi Algorithm: kink
Viterbi Algorithm: kink (Photo credit: anthillsocial)
Researchers at Northwestern University have decoded how the brain signals intention and used that information to reanimate limbs which no longer function due to a spinal cord injury. By recording a monkey's brain activity while grasping a ball, scientists were able to create an algorithm that described how the monkey's arm responded to the brain's command. Then scientists reversibly paralyzed the monkey's arm and placed electrodes at specific points along the limb's muscle. When electricity was sent through the electrodes, following the dictates of the scientists' algorithm, the monkey grasped the ball despite being paralyzed. 

I wonder how this would play for motor apraxia.  If you can reanimate limbs, could you get better coordination and motor skills?
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