Monkeying around with the Brain: Scientists Turn an Animal's Thoughts into Action. Will the New Research Help Humans?

By Check, Erika | Newsweek, November 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

Monkeying around with the Brain: Scientists Turn an Animal's Thoughts into Action. Will the New Research Help Humans?


Check, Erika, Newsweek


In a lab in North Carolina, an owl monkey thinks about grabbing a piece of fruit. His brain sends electric messages to his muscles. He lifts his furry arm, aiming for the fruit--and a nearby robot arm simultaneously mimics the movement. With this small gesture, the monkey has proved something crucial: primate brainwaves can control complex robotic motion. It's not an isolated accomplishment; scientists hope that this work will one day help paralyzed people operate prosthetic limbs. And it could also deepen our understanding of how the brain works, says Duke University's Miguel Nicolelis, who reported the owl monkey research in last week's issue of the journal Nature. His lab and others are trying to find out what brain cells say when they talk to each other, racing to solve what scientists call the "decoding problem."

Nicolelis and his colleagues tackled the question by implanting electrodes in a monkey's brain. These electrodes eavesdropped on dozens of brain cells, called neurons. The researchers then created a computer model that predicted how the monkey would move every time those neurons fired. Once they hooked the computer model up to a robot arm, the researchers could tell how well the model was working. When monkey and robot moved the same way, the model was accurate. It wasn't an easy task. John Donoghue, chair of the neuroscience department at Brown University, explains that scientists have only recently learned to "listen" to many neurons at once. "We used to listen to one neuron at a time," he says. "But that's like trying to understand an entire symphony by listening to the second violinist."

Donoghue's lab is one of several working with models that translate brainwaves into movement. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Monkeying around with the Brain: Scientists Turn an Animal's Thoughts into Action. Will the New Research Help Humans?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.