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Working with colleagues at Duke, M.I.T.'s Laboratory for Human and Machine Haptics (also known as the Touch Lab) and the State University of New York Health Science Center, Nicolelis implanted electrodes into the sections of the monkeys' brains in which the planning and execution of arm movements takes place. When the brain instructs the body to make a motion, it fires off electric signals well before any action actually takes place; in other words, the body lags slightly behind the brain's intention to act. In effect, the brain warms up for an impending movement by directing specific clusters of neurons to fire, just as you might warm up your car's engine by pumping the gas pedal.
Nicolelis and his colleagues monitored the monkeys' brain signals as they warmed up for various tasks, like reaching for food, and isolated the signals that preceded the movements. Then they routed the monkeys' brain signals through a computer. As a monkey started to grasp for food, the computer picked up the neural traffic and forwarded it to a robotic arm called the Phantom. When the monkey extended its arm, the Phantom, using the neural signals from the monkey, precisely mimicked the action. Nicolelis even transmitted the brain signals over the Internet to the Touch Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, so the monkey's neural commands operated another Phantom 965 km away.
When a person reads a sentence, hears a speech, experiences an emotion, or thinks a thought, a cluster or network of brain cells fires in a certain pattern with particular intensity and timing. This cellular activity can be monitored using a number of contemporary technologies. Neuronal activity produces electrical waves, sugar metabolism, magnetic fields magnetic fields, n.pl the spaces in which magnetic forces are detectable; created by magnetostrictive ultrasonic scalers to cause the tips of instruments such as ultrasonic scalers to vibrate. , and other physical data that can be detected with sophisticated machinery such as the ectroencephalograph.