See Inside February 2008

Building a Future On Science

Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel A. L. Nicolelis taps into the chatter of neural populations to drive robotic prosthetics. Now he hopes to tap the potential of his country's population by building them a network of science cities

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In a tiny, darkened room on the Duke University campus, Miguel Nicolelis looks on approvingly while a pair of students monitors data streaming across computer screens. The brightly colored dashes and spikes reflect the real-time brain activity of a rhesus macaque named Clementine, who is walking at a leisurely pace on a little treadmill in the next room. Staticky pops coming from a speaker on a back wall are the amplified sound of one of her neurons firing.

“This is the most beautiful music you can hear from the brain,” Nicolelis declares with a smile.

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