Researchers Found A Way To Speed Up Human Reflexes Using Stimulators

Dhir Acharya - Jul 29, 2019


Researchers Found A Way To Speed Up Human Reflexes Using Stimulators

If you watched Spiderman, you'd know he can dodge attacks with his superhuman reflexes. Researchers are getting closer to bring that ability to real life.

If you have watched Spiderman, you would know he can dodge attacks with his superhuman reflexes. Now, researchers are getting closer to bring that ability to real life as they have come up with a method to super-charge human reflexes through combining sensors with well-timed electrical muscle stimulation.

The-stimulators-controlled-the-subject's-movements-1
The stimulators controlled the subject's movements

Normally, it takes a human around 250 milliseconds to react to a visual stimulus, which its about that time from when you spot a mosquito nearby to raising your arm and swatting it away. In 250 milliseconds, your brain spends 200 on processing what it sees, determining an action, and sending a signal for the body to react. In the last 50 milliseconds, the human muscle takes action commanded by the brain.

The researchers combined sensors for detecting the event and connected electrical muscle stimulators for triggering a subject’s reaction in a number of experiments including shooting a baseball out of the air, photographing an object with high-speed motion, and catching a dropped marker. However, the research doesn’t aim at making the subjects feel controlled by the hardware.

The research team, through trial and error, found that when they limited the stimulators’ activation to about 160 milliseconds after the trigger event, reaction times of a subject can be increased by nearly 80 milliseconds while the subject still feels like having full control of their body.

In fact, they were wired to some hardware which controlled their movements, but they thought they did it by themselves because they paid all the attention to the task, and due to the timing between the artificially triggered reactions and their natural one.

However, it’s still long before we can see a special suit enhancing human’s reflexes. The experiments covered just some specific events. And if the subject changed their mind at the last minute, their reaction time would be the same and there would be no differences. For the system to work truly effectively and replicate Spiderman’s ability, we need to consider a near-unlimited number of variables as well as stimuli.

Anyway, though we’re nowhere near a Spiderman suit, this approach can benefit people with difficulties in mobility that rely on technology to improve their everyday lives. The research could help the disabled get around more easily and safely.

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