Engineers Arto Nurmikko and Ming Yin examine their prototype wireless, broadband
neural sensing device. Credit: Fred Field for Brown University

 
EARTHSKY // SCIENCE WIRE RELEASE DATE: FEB 28, 2013

Novel wireless brain sensor unveiled

Engineers have developed a novel wireless, broadband, rechargeable, fully implantable brain sensor that has performed well in animal models for more than a year.

A team of neuroengineers based at Brown University has developed a fully implantable and rechargeable wireless brain sensor capable of relaying real-time broadband signals from up to 100 neurons in freely moving subjects. Several copies of the novel low-power device, described in the Journal of Neural Engineering, have been performing well in animal models for more than year, a first in the brain-computer interface field. Brain-computer interfaces coud help people with severe paralysis control devces with their thoughts.

Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering at Brown University who oversaw the device’s invention, is presenting it this week at the 2013 International Workshop on Clinical Brain-Machine Interface Systems in Houston.

“This has features that are somewhat akin to a cell phone, except the conversation that is being sent out is the brain talking wirelessly,” Nurmikko said.

Neuroscientists can use such a device to observe, record, and analyze the signals emitted by scores of neurons in particular parts of the animal model’s brain.

Meanwhile, wired systems using similar implantable sensing electrodes are being investigated in brain-computer interface research to assess the feasibility of people with severe paralysis moving assistive devices like robotic arms or computer cursors by thinking about moving their arms and hands.

This wireless system addresses a major need for the next step in providing a practical brain-computer interface,” said neuroscientist John Donoghue, the Wriston Professor of Neuroscience at Brown University and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science.

Read more: Novel wireless brain sensor unveiled | Science Wire | EarthSky.

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