Public Release: 

Potential brain-machine interface for hand paralysis

Combining brain stimulation with a robotic device could help restore hand function in stroke patients

Society for Neuroscience

A brain-machine interface that combines brain stimulation with a robotic device controlling hand movement increases the output of pathways connecting the brain and spinal cord, according to a study of healthy adults published in JNeurosci. This work could have implications for restoring function in stroke patients with hand paralysis.

Alireza Gharabaghi and colleagues asked participants to imagine opening their hand without actually making any movement while their hand was placed in a device that passively opened and closed their fingers as it received the necessary input from their brain activity. The researchers demonstrate that stimulating the hand area of the motor cortex at the same time, but not after, the robotic device initiated hand movement increased the strength of the neural signal, most likely by harnessing the processing power of additional neurons in the corticospinal tract. However, the signal decreased when participants were not required to imagine moving their hand. Delivering brain stimulation and robotic motor feedback simultaneously during rehabilitation may therefore be beneficial for patients who have lost voluntary muscle control.

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Article: Recruitment of additional corticospinal pathways in the human brain with state-dependent paired associative stimulation
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2893-17.2017
Corresponding author: Alireza Gharabaghi (Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen, Germany), alireza.gharabaghi@uni-tuebingen.de

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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