Researchers simulate stimulation

By Celia Bever

No monkey business about it: UChicago scientists may have found a way to give amputees a second chance at touch.

Assistant Professor Sliman Bensmaia of the department of organismal biology and anatomy and his co-authors connected electrodes to the brains of monkeys wearing prosthetic limbs, using the electric current to mimic the brain activity associated with sensation. They found that the animals responded to stimulation the same way they had been trained to respond to contact with their natural hand. Since monkeys and people have similar sensory systems, the results could pave the way for human prosthetics sensitive to touch.

The research is part of Revolutionizing Prosthetics, a project associated with the U.S. Department of Defense aimed at creating an artificial arm that can simulate natural muscular function and sensitivity.