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Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds

• University of Chicago Medical Center

The results show both areas can create new connections to learn how to control the device, even several years after an amputation.

A new study by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago shows how amputees can learn to control a robotic arm through electrodes implanted in the brain.

The research, published in Nature Communications, details changes that take place in both sides of the brain used to control the amputated limb and the remaining, intact limb. The results show both areas can create new connections to learn how to control the device, even several years after an amputation.

"That's the novel aspect to this study, seeing that chronic, long-term amputees can learn to control a robotic limb," said Nicho Hatsopoulos, PhD, professor of organismal biology and anatomy at UChicago and senior author of the study. "But what was also interesting was the brain's plasticity over long-term exposure, and seeing what happened to the connectivity of the network as they learned to control the device."

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