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Neural Prosthetic Applications

Brain machine interface for motor control

Monitoring cortical activity locally using implanted microelectrodes is demonstrating the ability to achieve multi-dimensional motor control. Current devices record from up to 100 channels and typically stream the raw data to an external processor. Current research is developing next generation devices to record from more channels (1000s), extract information locally (spike sorting) and transmit data (transcutaneous) wirelessly directly to output devices (eg. actuators).

Brain activity monitoring for epilepsy prediction

The analysis of brain activity including EEG and ECoG, has led to many algorithms aiming to predict and detect Epileptic seizures. This project involves the development of a software and hardware platform for real-time neurological monitoring. An algorithm extracts neurological patterns and aims to classify them. The vision is of a system with the capability to forewarn a patient, doctor or nurse of an impending seizure or use closed-loop stimulation devices to suppress the seizure before it happens.

Intraspinal microstimulation for SCI

This emerging technique involves directly stimulating motor neurons in the spinal cord. This holds the promise of recruiting better co-ordinated and less fatigue-prone muscle movements with lower stimulation energy than stimulating the muscles directly. Current research is developing a high-channel count platform for achieving highly focused intraspinal microstimulation via a fully wireless link for power and data transfer.

Vagus nerve stimulation for appetite regulation

The vagus nerve is the principal pathway of sensory information passing from gut and other vital organs to brain and spinal cord. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has emerged as an implantable technology to stimulate the pathway and has been used in appetite control, depression and epileptic seizure suppression. Despite this progress and emerging technology, our level of control over it is severely limited. The technology we are developing allows us to selectively stimulate and record from the vagus nerve, and measure intra-nerve chemical activity. This fine level of control will allow researchers to regulate appetite in obese patients among other important functions.

Proprioceptive feedback for upper-limb prosthetics

Sensory feedback from the body is key to enabling fine motor control, natural (low cognitive load) movement and non-visual awareness of the position of your body. Individuals with prosthetic limbs or suffering from certain types of neural damage lack this proprioceptive feedback in the affected body areas and as such struggle to learn to control them and are unlikely to achieve high levels of coordinat ion. A research is investigating the provision of artificial proprioceptive feedback from a prosthetic limb by direct electrical stimulation of nerves using a neural implant.

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