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Seminar: Prof Tamar Makin – To be (biomimetic) or not to be?

20 March @ 16:00 - 17:00

20 MARCH 2024 – 

Hybrid seminar from Tamar Makin; in-person at the Bioengineering Department, Imperial College London, White City campus, online via Teams. Refreshments will be served after the seminar.

PLEASE NOTE: All attendees must register, whether attending in person or online. Please complete the virtual registration form.

In-person registration will close at 16:00 on Tues 19 March. Online registration will close at 15:30 on Wed 20 March

To be (biomimetic) or not to be?

To successfully design devices for the human body, engineers often view the body itself as the ideal design template. Similarly, for individuals missing a limb, the development of artificial prosthetic limbs often centres on embodiment as the goal: focusing device design and control on becoming more like our biological bodies. But ultimately, the success of artificial limb will critically depend on its neural representation in our brains. Importantly, neurocognitive resources might differ radically, depending on the user’s life experiences and needs.

Here, I will present a series of studies where we investigated the neural basis of artificial limb use for both substitution and augmentation technologies. We find that contrary to folk wisdom, the brain does not assimilate neural representations for the artificial limb with those for the biological body, creating opportunities for novel technological interfaces. Collectively, these studies suggest that although, in principle, opportunities exist for harnessing hand neural and cognitive resources to control artificial limbs, alternative non-biomimetic approaches could be also well suited for successful human-device interface.

Tamar Makin is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge University and the leader of the Plasticity Lab. Her main interest is understanding how our body representation changes in the brain (brain plasticity). Her primary model for this work is studying hand function and dysfunction, focusing on how we could use technology to increase hand functionality in able and disabled individuals of all ages.

Tamar graduated from the Brain and Behavioural Sciences programme at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2009. She was then awarded several career development fellowships to establish her research programme on brain plasticity in amputees at the University of Oxford, first as Research Fellow and later as a Principle Investigator. She joined the faculty of UCL in 2016, where she became a professor, and moved to Cambridge in 2022. She is currently supported by the European Research Council Consolidator Grants (deferred to UKRI), the Wellcome Trust (Senior Research Fellow) and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, in addition to the UK Medical Research Council.


Molecular Sciences Research Hub (MSRH)
Imperial College London, White City Campus, 82 Wood Lane
London, W12 0BZ United Kingdom
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