Scientists have restored a paralyzed man’s sense of touch
The success of the California Institute of Technology researchers was reported in the journal „eLife”. Przywroprice of the sense of touch and the ability to move has been achieved with the help of somatosensory cortex placed mozgu electrodes.
The somatosensory cortex is a region of the mofrom the arms, whichore regulates bodily sensations, the contagion ofohe sensations of feeling the position of the body in space or movement, as well as the sensation of skorne – sensations of pressure, vibration, touch and the like. Earlier nerve implants targeting these areas of the mozgu caused the headownie sensations reminiscent of tingling or shivering. However, the new device is able to produce a much more natural sensation similar to that experienced by the patient before the injury.
The patient was paralyzed from the arms in the doł three years ago after a spinal cord injury. The researchers implanted two small sets of electrodes in his sensory cortex region. By stimulating the neuronow with very small electrical impulses they managed to restore theoc to give the patient a sense of touch. The paralyzed person admitted that he felt pinching and squeezing, also movement, ktore rom varied in intensity and location depending on the frequency, amplitude and location of stimulation. This is the first time such natural sensations have been induced by neural stimulation.
– It was quite interesting,” assessed a participant in the study. – I felt pinching, squeezing, movements, etc. Hopefully this will help someone in the future – added.
Although the roThe different types of stimulation actually induced rotive sensations, neural codes governing specific physical sensations are still unclear. In the future, scientists will want to pinpoint the exact locations of theorych would need to be placed electrodes and stimulate mozg to evoke certain feelings. This is something like creating a kind of dictionary of stimulations and corresponding sensations.
The next major step will be to integrate the technology into an existing neural prosthesis. Researchers have already developed an interface several years ago that allows direct contact moWith an external device – e.g. with a prosthetic hand. In this wayob A paralyzed man was able to use a prosthesis to reach out, grab a cup and bring it to his mouth to drink on his own. Combining the device with the somatosensory cortex would lead to bidirectional interfacesow, whichore would allow paralyzed people to feel the sense of touch.
– Currently, the only coupling available to the nerve prostheses is visual, which means that participants can observe the controlled mozg the action of automatic limbs to make movement corrections. However, once the object is grasped, it is important roalso having sensory information to skillfully manipulate it. Stimulation-induced somatosensory experiences have the potential added benefit of creating a sensation of personification – for example, a participant may feel over time that a robotic limb is part of his or her body – explained Professor Richard Andersen, head of the T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center, where the research was done.