A brain-machine interface that combines brain stimulation with a robotic device controlling hand movement increases the output of pathways connecting the brain and the spinal cord.
This is according to a study of healthy adults published in JNeurosci. This work could have implications for restoring function in stroke patients with hand paralysis.
Alireza Gharabaghi and colleagues asked participants to imagine opening their hand without actually making any movement while their hand was placed in a device that passively opened and closed their fingers as it received the necessary input from their brain activity.
However, the signal decreased when participants were not required to imagine moving their hand. Delivering brain stimulation and robotic motor feedback simultaneously during rehabilitation may therefore be beneficial for patients who have lost voluntary muscle control.