Newswise — SAN FRANCISCO (April 8, 2014) — The unconscious process by which human beings perceive the position of their body parts — known as proprioception — is a critical element of the body’s motor control system. Proprioceptive feedback plays a key role in rehabilitation following a brain injury. Without it, patients experience diminished motor performance and require visual guidance for movement.

When patients are fitted with a robotic prosthetic limb, they gain control over their prosthesis with the help of a communication pathway provided by a brain-computer interface, or BCI, implanted in the brain. However, BCI-controlled prosthetics currently operate without somatosensory feedback.

A team of researchers led by Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara, MD, PhD, FAANS, found that proprioception significantly improved prosthetic control in the absence of vision. The study, known as Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Controlled Prosthetic Arm Movement Is Possible in the Absence of Visual Input with Proprioceptive Feedback, demonstrates that proprioception can have a powerful impact on BCI-controlled prosthetic arm movements and should be an important target for sensory restoration.

Dr. Tyler-Kabara presented the team’s findings today during the 82nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). “Not only are we proving that high level brain control of a prosthetic arm is possible but we are generating new ways to learn about how the brain works.” Dr. Tyler-Kabara added that these findings “certainly support the value of adding proprioceptive feedback for brain controlled prosthetic devices.”

Co-authors of the study include Jenifer Collinger, PhD; Brian Wodlinger, PhD; Douglas Weber, PhD; Andrew Schwartz, PhD; Michael Boninger, MD, PhD; and Robert Gaunt, PhD.

Disclosure: The author reported no conflicts of interest.

Media Representatives: The 2014 AANS Annual Meeting Press Kit includes releases on highlighted scientific research, AANS officer and award winners, National Neurosurgery Awareness Week, and other relevant information about this year’s program. Those releases also will be posted under the Media area on the 2014 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting website ( Meeting/2014/Main/Media.aspx). If you would have interest in a topic related to neurosurgery or would like to interview a neurosurgeon — either onsite or via telephone — during this year’s event, please contact John Iwanski, AANS Director of Integrated Marketing and Website Communications, via the onsite press room at 415.978.3603 or e-mail him at [email protected]

About the 2014 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting: Attended by neurosurgeons, neurosurgical residents, medical students, neuroscience nurses, clinical specialists, physician assistants, allied health professionals and other medical professionals, the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting is the largest gathering of neurosurgeons in the nation, with an emphasis on the field’s latest research and technological advances. A record-breaking 1,321 scientific abstracts were presented for review at the 2014 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting, and the scientific presentations given at this year’s event represent cutting-edge examples of the incredible developments taking place within the field of neurosurgery. Additional information about the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting and the Meeting Program can be found at Meeting/2014/Main/Home.aspx.

Founded in 1931 as the Harvey Cushing Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is a scientific and educational association with nearly 8,600 members worldwide. The AANS is dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to provide the highest quality of neurosurgical care to the public. All active members of the AANS are certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Neurosurgery) of Canada or the Mexican Council of Neurological Surgery, AC. Neurological surgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system including the spinal column, spinal cord, brain and peripheral nerves. For more information, visit