Melding mind and machine: robotic limbs controlled by thought

Monday, October 29th, 2:00 pm - 2:50 pm
Room 306ABC
Miguel Nicolelis

Miguel Nicolelis is a neuroscientist best known for his work in neuroprosthetics, tapping signals from “neural ensembles” to control robotic limbs that may be half a planet away. In experiments with monkeys, he has shown that the brain can learn to think of an electronic appendage as its own; his subjects watch a virtual robotic limb respond to mental commands and incorporate the sensory feedback into their thoughts, getting better and better at controlling the avatar limb merely by thought. Nicolelis, who’s negotiating to have a prosthesis-aided paraplegic athlete deliver the opening kick of the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, says these achievements offer more than progress toward mobility for victims of spinal-cord injury: They reveal details of the computing power of the human brain and suggest other ways that brain power can be tapped.

Attendees who register at the CASW website can download background material and the presentation at