Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

Brain Taught to Move Paralyzed Muscles

October 17, 2008

U.S. researchers said monkeys can learn to move paralyzed muscles through a direct artificial connection to the brain.

Researchers at the Washington National Primate Research Center trained monkeys to control the activity of single nerve cells in the motor cortex, an area of the brain that controls voluntary movements. The findings could lead to new ways to help humans with spinal cord injuries or paralyzing neurological diseases, although clinical applications are years away, the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday.

“This study demonstrates a novel approach to restoring movement through neuroprosthetic devices, one that would link a person’s brain to the activation of individual muscles in a paralyzed limb to produce natural control and movements,” Joseph Pancrazio, a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said in a statement.

The findings are published in the online Oct. 15 issue of the journal Nature.