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Lab Reports
December 3, 2008

Overcoming Paralysis

JAMA. 2008;300(21):2476. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.739

Researchers demonstrated for the first time that direct artificial connections between motor neurons in the brain and muscles can compensate for interrupted nerve pathways and restore goal-oriented movement of a paralyzed limb (Moritz CT et al. Nature. doi:07418 [published online ahead of print October 15, 2008]).

Researchers at the University of Washington, in Seattle, used autonomous electronic circuitry to create an artificial connection from cortical neurons to the wrist muscles of Macaca nemestrina monkeys. They demonstrated that monkeys with transiently paralyzed limbs learned to move the wrist muscles via direct control from any neuron in the motor cortex, including those not previously associated with movement.