Chinese scientists completed what is reportedly the world’s first invasive brain-machine interface (BMI) experiment on a non-human primate on May 4 in Beijing.
The successful experiment brought together a group of scientists from Nankai University, PLA-affiliated 301 Hospital and Shanghai-based HeartCare, a medical service provider, to work on a monkey’s brain.
Led by Wu Dongdong, a chief neurosurgeon from 301 Hospital, the group of researchers has been credited for presiding over an important development signaling China’s global leadership in BMI technology.
Drawing on the results of a previous invasive BMI experiment on a goat, the scientists placed an electroencephalogram (EEG) sensor on the walls of the monkey’s brain artery.
This makes it possible for them to collect EEG, or brain wave, signals from inside the animal’s brain without performing a craniotomy, or brain surgery.
This was done by implanting the EEG sensors via the monkey’s jugular veins, which then traveled all the way to the superior sagittal sinus and eventually reached the motor cortex — the part of brain controlling body movement.
Following the surgery, researchers collected and recognized non-human primate brain wave signals and achieved autonomous control of the robotic arm by the animal itself.
This compares favorably with traditional invasive or non-invasive BMIs, as it allows for increased safety and signal recognition while reducing the risks of inflammation and rejection, the report said.