Researchers fake sense of touch in monkey brains, hope to build a better prosthetic

Medical prosthetics have come a long way in recent years, but with a few exceptions, artificial limbs still lack the tactility of their fleshy counterparts. Scientists at the University of Chicago are looking to plug those sensory gaps by researching how to simulate touch sensations within the brain, via electrical impulses. By implanting electrodes into the area of the brain that governs the five senses, scientists used electrical stimulation to artificially create feelings of touch and pressure in test monkeys. The Phoenixes posit that this could increase the dexterity of upper-limb neuroprosthetics without extensive patient training and that this is an important step toward restoring touch to those who've lost it, like those with spinal cord injuries. While the scientists realize these operations require incredibly invasive surgery, they believe the procedure's potential could eventually justify the risk for those who don't have other options.