Researchers at University College London are giving the term “all thumbs” a new meaning.

You have taken an award-winning graduation project from London’s Royal College of Art to examine the brain’s response to the treatment of other sections of your body.

The concept behind the College of Art experiment was to reinterpret typical prothetic perspectives by using a robotic thumb linked to a hand.

“Our study demonstrates that individuals may swiftly learn and profit from an increased device without discomfort,” Dani Clode (shown above), the Robo thumb creator and a researcher of UCL, said in a release, exploring how the brain adjusts to bodily enlargement.

“We noticed that participants adjusted normal hand motions when using the Third Thumb and also said the robotic thumb seemed like part of their own body.”

If it’s nice to have two thumbs, then three thumbs are better? Howie Choset, co-director of the Biorobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, didn’t necessarily maintain this.

“We don’t only have components on our thumbs,” TechNewsWorld said. “It’s part of a system.”

“To have an additional thumb means nothing,” he added. “The way that thumb functions in the context of the new system vary.”

Thumb toe-controlled

The scientists taught 30 individuals in their trial to use the Robo thumb and discovered that participants could do a range of activities that required dexterity, such as constructing a block tower with one hand.

A 3D printer is available for making the Robo thumb not only reasonably simple to manufacture, but also simple to personalize.

The gadget is fastened in front of the genuine thumb, right under the rose finger. It is operated via sensors placed to the big toes of a user’s foot. The sensors are subtly pressurized to handle the gadget through a wireless connection.

Twenty of the subjects were taught in five days of Robo thumb usage. They were urged at that time to take the gadget home and utilize it for everyday chores. The researchers estimate that the device was worn anywhere between two and six hours a day.

Another set of 10 participants wore a static version of the Robo thumb throughout the same training sessions.

At the laboratory, the training focuses on allowing participants to carry out exercises that serve to develop collaboration between the hand and the Robo thumb, activities such as single-handed harvesting of many balls or wine glasses.

The researchers said participants could acquire the fundamentals of thumb manipulation extremely fast, while they were trained in motor control, dexterity, and hand-thumb coordination using the device.

Participants could even use the Robo thumb when preoccupied. They could create a wooden block tower, for example, while tackling a math problem or while blindfolding.

“Our research is the first one to evaluate the usage of an amplifier outside of a lab,” said Paulina Kieliba, first author of the research in a statement.

“It is the first multi-day increase research and the first one to include an untrained comparative group,” she said.

“The success of our research demonstrates the significance of neuroscientists working together with designers and engineers to make the use of increasing devices for our brains to learn and adapt while guaranteeing that increasing gadgets can be used securely,” she noted.

Subtle changes in the brain

Professor Tamar Makin, the lead author of the research, pointed out that corporate increase is a burgeoning area that aims to expand human physical capacities but that there is a lack of clear knowledge of how our brains might adapt to it.

“We were trying to answer critical concerns by researching individuals using Dani’s cleverly-designed Third Thumb about how the human mind might accommodate an additional body part and how the technology may affect our brain,” she said in a statement.

“Evolution has not equipped us to take an additional portion of the body and we have discovered that the brain needs to adjust the representation of the biological body to expand its capabilities in new and unexpected ways,” she said.

The individuals were scanned before and after training using functional magnetic resonance imaging, which monitors brain activity via the detection of changes related to the blood flow. Without the Robo thumb, the individuals moved their fingers while scanning.


In their study abstract, the researchers found that the increase altered critical components of hand representation and engine control. Third Thumb use impaired the biological hand’s innate kinematic synergies. In addition, brain decoding demonstrated a minor collapse of the increased motor display of the hand even while the Third Thumb was not worn.

The researchers found modest differences in the way in which the hand wearing the Robo thumb as shown in the sensorimotor cortex of the brain. Each finger is usually represented separately in the brain. The brain activity pattern for each finger on the robot thumb hands was less distinct than usual.

However, images performed a week later indicated that the abnormalities in the hand region of the brain had decreased. This indicates that the consequences of the use of the Robo thumb on the brain are not long-term, however, more study is needed to corroborate the result.

Choset emphasized that bodily growth is crucial for both persons with disabilities and healthy individuals in the future. “It will provide a prosthesis for persons with disabilities and healthy individuals with occupations in which they may need machine help, such as lifting large weights.”

Kieliba argued that an increase in the body may one day serve many ways of society, such as allowing a physician to perform more effectively without an aide or a manufacturing worker.

“The idea of prosthesis may be revolutionized by this line of study, and it can assist someone who can only use one hand permanently or temporarily, to accomplish everything in his hand,” she added.

“But to get there,” she continues, “the complex multidisciplinary problems of how these technologies interact with our brains must continue to be investigated.”

“This is a terrific experiment to find out how the human brain works,” remarked Karthik Ramani, Purdue University Professor of Electrical Engineering.

“We know little about the human brain,” TechNewsWorld informed him, “and the connection between the hands and the head is important.”


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