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      Neuronal ensemble control of prosthetic devices by a human with tetraplegia.


      Adult, Bionics, methods, Electrodes, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Movement, Prostheses and Implants, Quadriplegia, physiopathology, rehabilitation, Robotics, User-Computer Interface

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          Neuromotor prostheses (NMPs) aim to replace or restore lost motor functions in paralysed humans by routeing movement-related signals from the brain, around damaged parts of the nervous system, to external effectors. To translate preclinical results from intact animals to a clinically useful NMP, movement signals must persist in cortex after spinal cord injury and be engaged by movement intent when sensory inputs and limb movement are long absent. Furthermore, NMPs would require that intention-driven neuronal activity be converted into a control signal that enables useful tasks. Here we show initial results for a tetraplegic human (MN) using a pilot NMP. Neuronal ensemble activity recorded through a 96-microelectrode array implanted in primary motor cortex demonstrated that intended hand motion modulates cortical spiking patterns three years after spinal cord injury. Decoders were created, providing a 'neural cursor' with which MN opened simulated e-mail and operated devices such as a television, even while conversing. Furthermore, MN used neural control to open and close a prosthetic hand, and perform rudimentary actions with a multi-jointed robotic arm. These early results suggest that NMPs based upon intracortical neuronal ensemble spiking activity could provide a valuable new neurotechnology to restore independence for humans with paralysis.

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          Adaptation in the motor cortex following cervical spinal cord injury.

          The nature of the adaptive changes that occur in the cerebral cortex following injury to the cervical spinal cord are largely unknown. To investigate these adaptive changes by examining the relationship between the motor cortical representation of the paretic right upper extremity compared with that of the tongue. The tongue was selected because the spinal cord injury (SCI) does not affect its movement and the cortical representation of the tongue is adjacent to that of the paretic upper extremity. FMRI was used to map cortical representations associated with simple motor tasks of the right upper extremity and tongue in 14 control subjects and 9 patients with remote (>5.5 months) cervical SCI. The mean value for the site of maximum cortical activation during upper limb movement was identical between the two groups. The site of maximum left hemispheric cortical activation during tongue movement was 12.8 mm (p < 0.01) medial and superior to that of control subjects, indicating the presence of a shift in cortical activation. The findings indicate that the adult motor cortex does indeed adapt following cervical SCI. The nature of the adaptation and the underlying biological mechanisms responsible for this change require further investigation.

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