A brain-machine interface (BMI) is a neuroprosthetic device that can restore motor function of individuals with paralysis. Although the feasibility of BMI control of upper-limb neuroprostheses has been demonstrated, a BMI for the restoration of lower-limb motor functions has not yet been developed. The objective of this study was to determine if gait-related information can be captured from neural activity recorded from the primary motor cortex of rats, and if this neural information can be used to stimulate paralysed hindlimb muscles after complete spinal cord transection. Neural activity was recorded from the hindlimb area of the primary motor cortex of six female Sprague Dawley rats during treadmill locomotion before and after mid-thoracic transection. Before spinal transection there was a strong association between neural activity and the step cycle. This association decreased after spinal transection. However, the locomotive state (standing vs. walking) could still be successfully decoded from neural recordings made after spinal transection. A novel BMI device was developed that processed this neural information in real-time and used it to control electrical stimulation of paralysed hindlimb muscles. This system was able to elicit hindlimb muscle contractions that mimicked forelimb stepping. We propose this lower-limb BMI as a future neuroprosthesis for human paraplegics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)