TECH
16/10/2013 06:50 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Monkey Can 'Feel' Robotic Limb With Brain Implant

A monkey has been outfitted with an artificial limb which it can use to literally 'feel' objects.

Researchers at the University of Chicago were able to simulate touch sensation's in the simian's brain, using electrical impulses.

In the study, the monkey was shown to focus its gaze in different places depending on which of their false fingers was being touched, according to New Scientist.

The experiment relied on placing microelectrodes inside the brain, and using them to deliver impulses to make nuerons fire in sequence. The result (from the monkey's perspective) was a sensation that appears to be equivalent to touch.

"Information about location and pressure of a touch is often unavailable visually or is inadequate to guide motor behaviour for people with prosthetics," said study author Sliman Bensmaia.

"But it is crucial. Without it we crush or drop objects in our grasp."

It is hoped the research - although it currently requires horrendously invasive surgical proceedures - might one day form the basis of new technology which could restore a sense of touch to humans.