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Homo Cyberneticus: Neurocognitive embodiment of artificial limbs

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Máté Lengyel.

To successfully design devices for the human body, engineers often view the body itself as the ideal design template. Similarly, for individuals missing a limb, the development of artificial prosthetic limbs often centres on embodiment as the goal: focusing device design and control on becoming more like our biological bodies. But ultimately, the success of artificial limb will critically depend on its neural representation in our brains. Importantly, neurocognitive resources might differ radically, depending on the user’s life experiences and needs. Here I will present a series of studies where we investigated the neural basis of artificial limb use for both substitution and augmentation technologies. We find that contrary to folk wisdom, the brain does not assimilate neural representations for the artificial limb with those for the biological body, creating opportunities for novel technological interfaces. Collectively, these studies suggest that although, in principle, opportunities exist for harnessing hand neural and cognitive resources to control artificial limbs, alternative non-biomimetic approaches could be also well suited for successful human-device interface.

This talk is part of the Adrian Seminars in Neuroscience series.

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