Saturday, November 2, 2013

Researchers Can Re-Create Sense of Touch

My opinion:  Though I think this is great for people who have lost their sensory abilities, I'd also like to look at some of the alternative consequences of this researchers.  Does this also mean that scientists are on their way to making robots that can actually have senses?  Though this is an issue that may be a while off, I can see some people discouraging this kind of research because they would prefer to keep robots lesser than human.  Also, why were monkeys used in this study?  Perhaps they are the most similar to humans, but the article doesn't say exactly how the electrodes were implanted in their brains and what the consequences were.  It is unlikely that this was safer in the monkeys, so I'm guessing that some of them may have become ill or disabled afterward.  The most important question may be: Is there some way to do this without going through rigorous surgery?  Maybe with time, the electrodes will become smaller and this issue will be resolved.  Any thoughts?  Feel free to comment.

Researchers fake sense of touch in monkey brains, hope to build a better prosthetic

Medical prosthetics have come a long way in recent years, but with a few exceptions, artificial limbs still lack the tactility of their fleshy counterparts. Scientists at the University of Chicago are looking to plug those sensory gaps by researching how to simulate touch sensations within the brain, via electrical impulses. By implanting electrodes into the area of the brain that governs the five senses, scientists used electrical stimulation to artificially create feelings of touch and pressure in test monkeys. The Phoenixes posit that this could increase the dexterity of upper-limb neuroprosthetics without extensive patient training and that this is an important step toward restoring touch to those who've lost it, like those with spinal cord injuries. While the scientists realize these operations require incredibly invasive surgery, they believe the procedure's potential could eventually justify the risk for those who don't have other options.


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