Illusory movement perception improves motor control for prosthetic hands

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Abstract

To effortlessly complete an intentional movement, the brain needs feedback from the body regarding the movement’s progress. This largely nonconscious kinesthetic sense helps the brain to learn relationships between motor commands and outcomes to correct movement errors. Prosthetic systems for restoring function have predominantly focused on controlling motorized joint movement. Without the kinesthetic sense, however, these devices do not become intuitively controllable. We report a method for endowing human amputees with a kinesthetic perception of dexterous robotic hands. Vibrating the muscles used for prosthetic control via a neural-machine interface produced the illusory perception of complex grip movements. Within minutes, three amputees integrated this kinesthetic feedback and improved movement control. Combining intent, kinesthesia, and vision instilled participants with a sense of agency over the robotic movements. This feedback approach for closed-loop control opens a pathway to seamless integration of minds and machines.

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