Using electrophysiological measurements in the areas of the brain that are responsible for the planning and execution of hand movements, German Primate Center scientists predicted avariety of hand positions through the analysis of exact neural signals.

In initial experiments, the application of decrypted grip types was transferred to a robot hand. The results of the study will be incorporated in the future development of neuroprostheses, which will be used to enable paralyzed patients the recovery of hand functions.

"We wanted to find out how different hand movements are controlled by the brain and whether it was possible to use the activity of nerve cells to predict different grip types", says Stefan Schaffelhofer, neuroscientist in the Neurobiology Laboratory of the German Primate Center.

To research the regulation of various grip movements in these regions of the brain in detail, the activity was recorded from neurons with so-called multi electrode arrays. The researchers have trained the rhesus monkeys to repeatedly grasp 50 objects of different shapes and sizes. In order to identify the grip types and to compare them with the neural signals, an electromagnetic data glove was used to record all the finger and hand movements of monkeys.

The scientists have shown that a large number of different hand configurations can be decoded and used from neuronal planning and execution signals.