Real-time control of a robot arm using simultaneously recorded neurons in the motor cortex

Nat Neurosci. 1999 Jul;2(7):664-70. doi: 10.1038/10223.


To determine whether simultaneously recorded motor cortex neurons can be used for real-time device control, rats were trained to position a robot arm to obtain water by pressing a lever. Mathematical transformations, including neural networks, converted multineuron signals into 'neuronal population functions' that accurately predicted lever trajectory. Next, these functions were electronically converted into real-time signals for robot arm control. After switching to this 'neurorobotic' mode, 4 of 6 animals (those with > 25 task-related neurons) routinely used these brain-derived signals to position the robot arm and obtain water. With continued training in neurorobotic mode, the animals' lever movement diminished or stopped. These results suggest a possible means for movement restoration in paralysis patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Computer Systems
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Motor Activity*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Robotics*
  • Thalamus / physiology