Hold it, feel it

Published April 24, 2020

Researchers at the Battelle Memorial Institute have found a way to implant a chip into the brains of peo­ple with spinal cord injuries that can restore motion to par­a­lyzed limbs and, cru­cial­ly, ampli­fy the sense of touch. (And yes, they found, that sense of touch still exists — it’s just too weak for the patients to realize.)

This is a Big Deal because no pre­vi­ous brain-inter­face sys­tem like this allows patients to use their sense of touch, whether con­trol­ling their own limbs or a robot­ic one.

When hav­ing Burkhart [the patient] com­plete these move­ment tasks (like grab­bing an object) blind­fold­ed, the researchers found that the addi­tion of these stim­uli allowed him to do so far bet­ter than just chance, with a detec­tion rate as high as 90 percent.

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