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Six fingers on each Hand

Two subjects, a Freiburg study, have a physical characteristic that will not be noticed at first glance. You have a strong extra finger between the thumb and index finger, your Hand has six instead of five fingers. The reason for the extra Finger is a rare change in the genetic material is. Most of these stunted or immovable, then you will be removed directly after birth or later.

The two, mother and son, were, however, a double stroke of luck for the scientists in Freiburg im Breisgau. On the one hand, a rare opportunity to investigate how the brain with the control of an additional member of the mass actually comes along. And to find, on the other hand, an answer to a question, the researchers for a long time: Is it at all possible that more than the deal, what we have of nature: five fingers on each Hand, two arms, two legs?

researchers who want to develop additional artificial limbs, for example, a Extraarm or finger, worry. Because artificial arms and fingers, the fine-grab, touch and grab, there are already longer. To associate only such additional parts of the body, the brain, the researchers presents problems. "The question is: our brain has the capacity to control additional limbs?", the neuro-biologist Carsten Mehring, one of the authors of the study, which was published in the "Journal Nature Communications," says.


prepared to answer this question, the examined, he and his colleagues first of all, how agile the extra thumb of your subjects is and what you can start. The scientists had developed a special computer game for which you need six fingers. For the two subjects, and this was after a bit of Practice, no Problem: The game you could master it with one Hand, and just as good and fast as with two hands.

Using an MRI scanner, the scientists were able to see which areas of the brain during the movement of the sixth finger blood circulation particularly good, just at Work. This showed quite clearly that For the movement of the extra finger, the brain has reserved additional capacity.

"That the subjects can move the Finger independently of the other fingers, has surprised us, certainly," says Mehring. An additional Finger is not independently, but only in conjunction with another move, even that could be a result of the investigations.

As for the brain, a Limb is more of a challenge: Not only will the additional muscle has to control it, but also constantly coordinate, the additional finger joins the other and the movements – for example, when Access – are tailored to the whole Hand.

This realization, the researchers from Freiburg could be an important step to understand the human brain better, but to give perhaps also to give him additional abilities. "We now have the first indication that our brain is theoretically able to control additional limbs," says the neurobiologist Mehring. Without the movement of the rest of the body is affected.

The Vision of extra links

Whether this would also apply to extra limbs, a robot arm, for example, a grown man creates, lets say, on the basis of the present investigation. Because mother and son had the extra finger of birth. "In the development of the brain, he was taken into account," says Mehring.

But even if it should turn out that an adult brain can't control, no other limbs – the dream of extra legs, arms or fingers, you should not give up. There are ideas on how this could work, at least if you don't take in other parts of the body are then movable.

Specifically, this could mean, for example, a kind of corset to kill, to control a robot leg – this method developed by American researchers already in 2017. Sensors register if the Person tenses the muscles in the torso. Depending on the abdominal or chest muscle contracts, it moves the robot leg to the rear, to the left or to the right. The short Videos look at The twitching torso of the subjects, a bit irritated, but the robot's legs move.

A similar idea to Italian scientists. Instead the Sensors be attached to the hull, glued it on the forehead of their subjects. If these corrugated the forehead or your eyebrows moved, moved a mechanical sixth Finger, attached to the wrist.

And a Swiss group of researchers had already a year before their subjects, a third Arm test: The control of this Arms worked, after a bit of Practice, similar to the throttle when driving a car, so with the foot, in a Sitting position. Because of the is finally, in many of the activities unnecessary.

Of ideas, where those extra limbs would be helpful, not a lack of it: The surgeon could keep in the operating room, scalpel and hook itself and without the help of surgery. Extra legs could support paralyzed people after a stroke when Running. And many of the most unpleasant tasks could be done by a quasi-tireless robotic arm, controlled by a human: Carrying heavy moving boxes, for example, or particularly strenuous Work on a construction site.

Created: 01.11.2019, 19:54 PM

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