Microwires emerging from the green and orange tubes connect to two arrays of 16 microelectrodes embedded in a small mat of clear, rubbery silicone - the larger, numbered electrodes are part of the patient’s original surgery (Photo: University of Utah Department of Neurosurgery)
The brain is one of our most delicate organs. It’s not really meant to be prodded and poked, hence the nice protective skull surrounding it. That fragility makes experimental devices that use tiny electrodes poking into the brain to help paralyzed people use computers and potentially let amputees control bionic limbs, a risky proposition. But now a new University of Utah study shows that brain signals controlling arm movements can be detected accurately using new microelectrodes that sit on the brain, but don't penetrate it.