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Nicolelis OK

Miguel Nicolelis 

The Interface 

"Human beings will merge with machines and will eventually find themselves in remote environments they reach with thought-controlled devices." 

He is the inventor of neural implants that are capable of listening to the "music" of the brain, interpreting its codes and decoding its syntax. He created devices that allow the brain to break loose from the body; reacquire motor and sensory skills, once they have been compromised. In this perspective, through science humans are clad in an electronic vest that connects the to an intangible and technology-based universe: the cyber organism.


Named by "Scientific American" among the 20 most important scientists on the planet, Miguel Nicolelis is the first Brazilian neuroscientist. He graduated in medicine at the University of Sao Paulo in 1984 and specialised in physiology in 1989. He later left Brazil to move Philadelphia's Hahneman University, where he discovered a way to intercept neurons and decode the brain's language. He stayed in the United States and became professor of neuroscience at the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Here, he founded a lab that became the headquarters of his experimenting activities. He was a pioneer in proving that the brain has evolved abilities that go beyond the body it is attached to, so much that he created a brain-machine interface system. In 2003 he and his team proved they could listen to the brain signals generated by a monkey, which uses a joystick to translate the signals into controls to operate a mechanical arm, which is capable of performing the same movements. The following step is to build robotic cages that can walk following the commands provided by the monkey. All that while the monkey can "feel" the steps of the mechanical legs as though they were its own. This happens by means of a sensory channel: the mechanical arm is fitted with sensors that send tactile feedbacks to the brain. This innovation is to eventually be administered to human beings to help them overcome physical impairment. The ultimate goal is to build implants that can restore the function of the missing limb both from a motor and sensory standpoints. A first showcase of the scientific results accomplished is to take place during the grand opening ceremony of the 2014 Brazil World Cup: the Brazilian team will be accompanied on the pitch by a group of quadriplegic kids who will kick the ball thanks to the exoskeletons they wear. Nicolelis is confident that science will allow the rebirth of Brazil. The dream is coming true thanks to him: in 2005 he founded the Edmond e Lily Safra International Neuroscience Institute in Natal, one of the poorest regions of the Country. 

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