The activation of a single neuron in the brain may be enough to help restore muscle activity in the arms of paralysed patients with spinal cord injuries. Chet T. Moritz, Steve I. Perlmutter and Eberhard E. Fetz report their research in Nature (doi:10.1038/nature07418) showing that a potential treatment for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury is to route control signals from the brain around the injury by artificial connections. These results are the first demonstration that direct artificial connections between cortical cells and muscles can compensate for interrupted physiological pathways and restore volitional control of movement to paralysed limbs.
The implications of this research are covered by Nature News in a story that is free to access online. The authors discuss their work in this week’s Nature Podcast.