IEEE Spectrum A promising new study shows that the nervous system can rewire itself—with a little help from neural engineers. By Eliza Strickland
'For someone with a spinal cord injury, destroyed neurons act like a
roadblock that prevents movement commands from traveling down the spinal
cord and along the nerves. Although an injured person wills his fingers
to grasp a cup, for example, the command never makes it to his hand.
'But a study published today suggests that precisely
controlled electrical stimulation can encourage the nervous system to
create detours around that roadblock, allowing the command to get
'Spectrum has covered “closed-loop” neurostimulation systems before, most notably in this feature article
written by researchers from the companies Medronic, Cyberonics, and
Neuropace. The authors described systems that used various bodily
signals to trigger electrical pulses that countered epilepsy attacks and
chronic pain. Such smart and responsive systems, which are now being
used in humans, seem a clear step forward in electrical therapeutics.'