Segments in this Video

Robotic Surgery and Feedback (06:55)


Randall Wolf explains that surgeons currently use a telemanipulator, which does not feel or receive physical feedback from the action, only visual cues. Miguel Nicolelis, who has been studying brain signals for many years, describes how his team signaled a robotic limb with a brain and received feedback from the arm.

Remote Control With Brain Signals (07:18)

Nicolelis explains that the more people use a tool, it becomes an extension of their bodies, and so if a surgeon imagined using a microtube inside a body, they could theoretically move the tool and receive feedback. In an experiment with a monkey, Nicolelis tested this theory by reading movement signals in its brain and sending them to a robot. Scientists now study groups of neurons and interactions rather than individual cells.

Motor Process and Restoring Movement (04:49)

Nicolelis records the spatial-temporal pattern just before a movement to observe the motor program, and has found that the processes are statistical. He hopes to use these findings to create technology for patients who have lost the ability to connect brain motor signals to the body. By creating a bypass using computer science and robotics, the brain could send signals to a robotic vest.

Phantom Limb and Pattern Recognition (08:10)

When patients lose a limb, they often feel that it is still there because the motor processes in the brain continue. Nicolelis explains that patients can reconnect their brain signals to a mechanical limb. Scientists now see the brain not as a decoder, but as an active modeler of reality which understands patterns and continually checks and changes the model.

Latency and Power of Imagination (13:46)

Wolf expresses concern that latency between brain signals and a remote subject could be a problem, for example with space exploration. Nicolelis expects that in the future, people will be able to control tools with brain signals, as he showed in an experiment with a monkey that learned to play a game using imagination. They discuss how the movie "Avatar" presents these ideas.

Medical Challenges (10:14)

In the medical field, scientists hope to develop the technology for forced feedback and feeling in tools, as well as nanotechnology for surgery. Smaller technology with the capability to provide physical touch feedback will reduce the need to make large incisions during surgery. Nicolelis explains that the brain continuously creates a conception of the body and this can expand and change.

The Brain is Not Computable (06:37)

Analysis of neuron groups is a growing field, expanding beyond medicine to computer science, where scientists are exploring ways to narrow the gap between user and machine. Although machines are advancing much faster than the human brain, they will never be able to simulate the brain. Nicolelis explains that there are too many random events in life and evolution that could never be reproduced by technology.

Credits: The Robotic Mind (00:07)

Credits: The Robotic Mind

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The Robotic Mind

Part of the Series : Brainwave: Memory
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Are brains and machines about to merge? Imagine living in a world where people use their computers, drive their cars, and communicate with one another simply by thinking. Duke University neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis shares his revolutionary findings with a surgeon who has pioneered robotic surgery.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL143696

ISBN: 978-1-64347-345-1

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.