Intracortical microstimulation of human somatosensory cortex

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Science Translational Medicine  19 Oct 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 361, pp. 361ra141
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf8083

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  • RE: Brain-machine-interfaces – looking back to the future
    • Andreas Otte, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Offenburg University

    Since the first mechanical prosthetic iron replacements of the German knight Gottfried (“Götz”) von Berlichingen (born 1480, died 1562), who had lost his right hand in 1504, we have moved a big step forward today.
    Pioneering work in the development of brain-machine-interfaces has awakened new hope especially in patients after spinal cord injury (SCI). Already earlier this year, in April, the landmark study by Bouton et al. (2016) on restoring cortical control of functional movement in a human with quadriplegia has shown us one first possible step of a motor neural bypass (1). Study by Flesher et al. (2016) in the October 13 issue adds another essential aspect: restoring the somatosensory cortex in a human with long-term SCI (2). It would be interesting to know when the logical further step is available: to have a sensory neural bypass without the need for a robotic arm, i.e., a direct connection from the intact sensory input of, for example, the hand to the sensory cortex, bypassing the damaged ascending corticospinal tracts.
    In both, as I think, the degree of reorganization of the brain in terms of sensorimotor dysregulation after SCI should not be underestimated and may be challenging for future brain-machine-interface concepts (3).

    1. Bouton CE et al. Restoring cortical control of functional movement in a human with quadriplegia. Nature 533. 247-250 (2016)
    2. Flesher SN et al. Intracortical microstimulation of human somatosenso...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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