June 29, 2009

Electrodes placed on the brain, not in it

U.S. scientists say brain signals controlling arm movement can be detected by using microelectrodes that are positioned on the brain, but don't penetrate it.

The unique thing about this technology is that it provides lots of information out of the brain without having to put the electrodes into the brain, University of Utah Assistant Professor Bradley Greger, a co-author of the study, said. That lets neurosurgeons put this device under the skull, but over brain areas where it would be risky to place penetrating electrodes -- areas that control speech, memory and other cognitive functions.

For people who have lost a limb or are paralyzed, this device should allow a high level of control over a prosthetic limb or computer interface, Greger added. It will enable amputees or people with severe paralysis to interact with their environment using a prosthetic arm or a computer interface that decodes signals from the brain.

The study is to appear in the July 1 edition of the journal Neurosurgical Focus.