WTF happened to these monkeys
That they have so many amputees to experiment on? "Accidents" isn't enough.
Amputee monkeys have been trained to control robotic arms with their minds using an advanced brain-computer interface, a group of researchers has claimed. A paper published in Nature Communications on Monday describes an experiment with three Rhesus macaque monkeys (Macaca Mulatta) that were previously involved in accidents …
Nah, they're vicious little bastards who would bite your finger off for shits and giggles. I've no sympathy.
True. That's why I believe that they had limbless lab monkeys available.
They're just as vicious to each other, and in a lab cage with no where for the victim to run to...
I'm with Florida1920 on this - you can't use 'wild' primates for research, so just how common are 'accidents' to the arms of Rhesus Macaque monkeys bred in captivity for research?
You wouldn't normally use an injured test subject for a research project either; it would be more usual to start with a healthy test subject, in this case with all four limbs, and then amputate one.
It actually does sound to me like they started with injured monkeys rather than simply amputating the limbs of healthy monkeys. The reason is that they noted that the connection was made to the opposite side of the amputated limb on two of the monkeys so there really isn't much obvious need to use an amputee other than the third monkey who was connected on the side of the amputation.
The results show that the connections between the neurons on the same side as the amputated arm were sparse before training as the absent limb was rarely exercised. But as the monkey was trained, the connections in the brain’s area used for reaching and grasping got more dense.
This leads me to believe that some time had passed between injury and experiment and while it doesn't preclude amputation for this specific experiment it doesn't make much sense to wait however long it takes for the neurons to become sparse after the amputation.
It is easy to be suspicious and cynical but I would offset that in noting they had neuron clusters which had adapted to one arm use so they were not recent traumatic events. [ cross-posted with Eddy Ito ]
I cannot however totally put my cynicism aside, can too easily imagine, "when you are done with those monkeys you have cut an arm off; drag them over here".
The article says "we used unilaterally amputated monkeys that had undergone therapeutic amputation several years (two of them with 9 to 10 years and a third monkey over 4 years) before they arrived in our lab." It doesn't sound like they were amputated for the study, and the length of amputation is relevant to eventual studies in humans, who may have been missing a limb for a long time.
I think they used electrodes in either "contralateral" or"ipsilateral" motor cortex to study the reorganization of neuronal circuitry that was (ipsilateral) or wasn't (contralateral) controlling an intact arm at the time. The reorganization was different in the two cases.
While people do have brain electrodes permanently implanted to help control Parkinson's disease (deep brain stimulation), having electrodes implanted isn't for the faint of heart!
> One day the same technology can be used to help human amputees control robotic prosthetics with the brain,
And presumably the next stage after that would be to train monkeys (or people) with a full set of limbs to control a remote robotic arm. Possibly for remote controlled surgery. Possibly to work in hazardous areas. Possibly to "walk" a robot across the surface of the Moon.
I recall a story called Toby (or it may have been Qwerty) , about a typewriter that was owned by a monkey that died, and his spirit possessed the typewriter and the new owner of the typewriter observed it typing "Qwerty" repeatedly then eventually it typed "Toby or Not Toby", I have no idea who wrote it, I believe I read it in a pulp magazine many many years ago.
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