This is the finger you’re missing, according to Cambridge University

“Human augmentation” (mainly the use of prosthetics, but also neural chips) allows us to evaluate how the brain adapts to profound changes in our body, and how it learns accordingly.control and collaborate with a completely new part of the bodyWith this in mind and with the help (never better said) of Danielle Clode, director of the Plasticity Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, the Third Thumb Project has been created.

The third thumb is a 3D printed flexible thumb extension and is part of an interesting new neuroscience research study. It moves like a thumb by means of two motors/pressure sensors, placed under the toes that communicate wirelessly with the motors in the third thumb. The foot sensor is inspired by products that help develop the already strong collaborative relationship between our hands and feet. For example, driving a car, using a sewing machine or playing the piano.

In their lab, Clode’s team trains people to use the Third Thumb over several days through a combination of playful tasks (playing the guitar, playing a video game, making juice, etc..) while teaching the basics of prosthesis use.

Danielle Clode showing her “third thumb”.Danielle ClodeDanielle Clode

The studies published so far have shown that people They can quickly learn to control a device or prosthesis and use it to their advantage, without thinking too much. They also reported that the thumb felt natural to them, like another part of the body.

Prosthesis explores the relationship between our bodies and augmentative and prosthetic technology. “It is part tool, part experience, and part research; a catalyst and model through which we can better understand the human response to artificial extensions – explains Clode on his website – The third thumb instigates a necessary conversation about the definition of skill.”

The etymology of the word prosthesis is linked to adding, putting on top, “therefore, it has no relation to fixing or replacing, but to expanding – adds Clode -. The project is inspired by the origin of this word, explores human augmentation and aims to rethink prosthetics as extensions of the body”.

The Third Thumb is currently being developed and used for neuroscience research in collaboration with The Plasticity Lab at University College London and the University of Cambridge. By investigating how our brains can adapt to magnification, it is possible to explore the limits of neuroplasticity, see what resources our brain uses to control a part of the body that had never been there before and ultimately investigate how it can be leveraged to improve the usability and control of future prosthetic and augmentative devices.

In recent years, there have been an increased interest in augmentative technologies that expand people’s physical and cognitive capabilities. “However, these new devices introduce several theoretical and practical challenges: What resources could the brain employ to control a part of the body that has never been there before? Does robotic augmentation affect body representation?” Clode concludes. “We want to see how to take advantage of the usability and control of these devices.” And surely he sees