Prosthetic hand 'tells' the brain what it is touching

This prosthetic might be able to communicate a sense of touch to its user.

Story highlights

  • DARPA researchers demonstrate a prosthetic that might communicate sense of touch to the user
  • It relies on implanting electrode arrays in the brain, but they're only stable in body for several years

(CNN)Research on prosthetic hands has come a long way, but most of it has focused on improving the way the body controls the device.

Now, it may also be possible for prosthetic hands to send signals back to the body and "tell" it information about what the bionic hand is touching, according to a new study.
    Recently, researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research arm of the U.S. military, implanted an array of small electrodes into the region of the brain that controls movement in a woman who is paralyzed. The electrodes communicated electrical activity from the brain's motor cortex, via wires, to a prosthetic arm that the woman was able to move through a wide range of motions.
    Then the research team asked, "Can we run the experiment in reverse? Can we do for sensation what we did for the motor system?" sai