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Israeli researchers develop robotic brain that helps movement


09:24, November 02, 2011

JERUSALEM, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University developed a computer chip that could recuperate loss body movement if placed in the cerebellum, opening the doors to treatment of brain damage, researchers told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The computer chip, wired to a man-made segment of a cerebellum, was attached to a rodent's skull that had lost the ability to blink. After the artificial cerebellum was implanted, the rodent was once again able to blink.

The chip, connected to the rat's brain, works by reading sensory information from the body and then communicating it to the cerebellum, the area of the brain that allows movement coordination, through electrodes.

"The chip itself imitates a small part of the cerebellum, a very tiny part of it," said Prof. Matti Mintz of TAU's Department of Psychology.

"We took a small part of the cerebellum and studied it and created the computer chip that mimics the damaged area," he said.

However, more complicated movements, like walking, are still at least one decade away, Mintz added.

"We still did not test it on humans because we need to know the area the chip will mimic before installing it, which requires extensive research. But we are now developing a chip that will do a sequence of simple movements," he pointed out.

When fully developed for humans, it can be used to help patients who suffer brain genetic diseases like Parkinson, or had strokes that caused brain damage.

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