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Oct 17, 2010

Growing neurons on silicon chips

Via Robots.net

Researchers at University of Calgary have developed neurochips capable of capable of interfacing to and sensing activity of biological neurons in very high resolution. The new chips are automated so it's now easy to connect multiple brain cells eliminating the years of training it once required. While researchers say this technology could be used for new diagnostic methods and treatments for a variety of neuro-degenerative diseases, this advancement could ultimately lead to the use of biological neurons in the central or sub-processing units of computers and automated machinery.



Sep 02, 2010

The Blue Brain Project

As computing power continues to increase, it may ultimately be possible to simulate the functioning of the most complex system of the known universe: the brain. This is the ambitious goal of the Blue Brain Project, the first attempt to reverse-engineer the mammalian brain.

The project is expected to provide answers to a number of fundamental questions, ranging from the emergence of biological intelligence to the evolution of consciousness.

Lead by neuroscientist Henry Markram, Blue Brain was launched in 2005 as a joint research initiative between the Brain Mind Institute at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the information technology giant IBM. Using the impressive processing power of IBM’s Blue Gene/L supercomputer, the project reached its first milestone in December 2006, with the development of the model of a rat’s neocortical column (NCC).


To perform the empirically-based simulation of individual cells, the Blue Gene/L supercomputer uses the NEURON software developed by Michael Hines, John W. Moore, and Ted Carnevale at Yale and Duke. Thanks to this software, processors are converted into neuron simulators and communication cables are converted into axons interconnecting the neurons, which allows to transform the entire Blue Gene into a cortical microcircuit.

In November 2007, the project achieved the completion of its first phase, with the development of a new modelling framework for the construction and validation of neural circuits built from biological data. The project is now striving to simplify the simulation of the column, in order to allow the parallel simulation of multiple connected columns. If this strategy will be successful, the final objective will be to simulate a whole human neocortex, which includes about one million cortical columns.

More to explore:

H. Markram, The Blue Brain Project, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 7:153-160, 2006

Feb 04, 2010

Hybrid nanoparticle-organic transistor mimics a synapse

Via MilTech

Nanotechnology researchers in France have developed a hybrid transistor called NOMFET (Nanoparticle Organic Memory Field-Effect Transistor) that shows the main behavior of a biological spiking synapse and can lead to a new generation of neuro-inspired computers, capable of responding in a manner similar to the nervous system. The organic device is made of a molecule called pentacene (an organic semiconductor) and gold nano-particles.

“Basically, we have demonstrated that electric charges flowing through a mixture of an organic semiconductor and metallic nanoparticles can behave the same way as neurotransmitters through a synaptic connection in the brain,” Dominique Vuillaume, a research director at CNRS and head of the Molecular Nanostructures & Devices group at the Institute for Electronics Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (IEMN) tells Nanowerk.

The study is published in the 22 January 2010 issue of the journal Advanced Functional Materials, and can be accessed on Scribd.

Credit: Mil-Tech.com

Oct 02, 2009

Natural weelchair control

Have a look at this demo of an electric wheelchair under control of an Emotiv EEG/EMG headset. The control system developed by Cuitech, detects when the user winks or smiles, and translates these signals into commands to control the wheelchair.

Dec 04, 2007

Prosthetic Limbs That Can Feel

Via KurzweilAI.net

Researchers at Northwestern University, in Chicago, have shown that transplanting the nerves from an amputated hand to the chest allows patients to feel hand sensation there.

The findings are the first step toward prosthetic arms with sensors on the fingers that will transfer tactile information from the device to the chest, making the wearer feel as though he or she has a real hand.

Full article here 

Oct 17, 2007

Intraspinal stimulation for bladder voiding in cats

Neural engineers at Huntington Medical Research Institutes were able to use chronically implanted neuroprosthetic device inside the spinal cord. The device, consisting of an array of micrometer-sized spiny electrodes, was used to treat bladder paralysis in spinal cord-injured animals. The electrodes were located throughout the spinal cord tissue, and stimulation near the middle of the cord in the area called the dorsal gray commissure was most effective in inducing a bladder voiding reflex. Unlike the previously-used approaches of stimulating spinal roots or nerves which contain mixed fibers innervating multiple organs, the intraspinal stimulation was shown to be very specific and induced near-complete bladder emptying.

The article is coming out in the December issue of Journal of Neural Engineering and is available online at http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1741-2552/4/4/002/


Oct 10, 2007

Brain radiator

Via New Scientist Invention Blog 












Researchers at Yamaguchi University in Japan have applied for a patent describing a heat pipe installed over the brain that would allow it to be cooled and prevent epileptic fits in susceptible people.  

read full brain radiator patent

Oct 08, 2007

MIT develops new algorithm to help create prosthetic devices

MIT researchers have developed an algorithmic framework for building prosthetic devices that are controlled by neural signal detectors such as EEG.
Neural prosthetic devices represent an engineer's approach to treating paralysis and amputation. Here, electronics are used to monitor the neural signals that reflect an individual's intentions for the prosthesis or computer they are trying to use. Algorithms form the link between neural signals that are recorded, and the user's intentions that are decoded to drive the prosthetic device.

Over the past decade, efforts at prototyping these devices have divided along various boundaries related to brain regions, recording modalities, and applications. The MIT technique provides a common framework that underlies all these various efforts.

The research uses a method called graphical models that has been widely applied to problems in computer science like speech-to-text or automated video analysis. The graphical models used by the MIT team are diagrams composed of circles and arrows that represent how neural activity results from a person's intentions for the prosthetic device they are using.

The diagrams represent the mathematical relationship between the person's intentions and the neural manifestation of that intention, whether the intention is measured by an electoencephalography (EEG), intracranial electrode arrays or optical imaging. These signals could come from a number of brain regions, including cortical or subcortical structures.

Until now, researchers working on brain prosthetics have used different algorithms depending on what method they were using to measure brain activity. The new model is applicable no matter what measurement technique is used, according to Srinivasan. "We don't need to reinvent a new paradigm for each modality or brain region," he said.


Sep 27, 2007

Therapeutic potential of computer to cerebral cortex implantable devices

Therapeutic potential of computer to cerebral cortex implantable devices.

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2007;97(Pt 2):529-35

Authors: Warwick K, Gasson MN, Spiers AJ

In this article, an overview of some of the latest developments in the field of cerebral cortex to computer interfacing (CCCI) is given. This is posed in the more general context of Brain-Computer Interfaces in order to assess advantages and disadvantages. The emphasis is clearly placed on practical studies that have been undertaken and reported on, as opposed to those speculated, simulated or proposed as future projects. Related areas are discussed briefly only in the context of their contribution to the studies being undertaken. The area of focus is notably the use of invasive implant technology, where a connection is made directly with the cerebral cortex and/or nervous system. Tests and experimentation which do not involve human subjects are invariably carried out a priori to indicate the eventual possibilities before human subjects are themselves involved. Some of the more pertinent animal studies from this area are discussed. The paper goes on to describe human experimentation, in which neural implants have linked the human nervous system bidirectionally with technology and the internet. A view is taken as to the prospects for the future for CCCI, in terms of its broad therapeutic role.

Sep 20, 2007

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc will launch Neurotech Index

Via Brain Waves

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc will launch NASDAQ NeuroInsights Neurotech Index on September 25 (ticker symbol: NERV).

The 32-member index includes companies whose core business is the development of drugs, devices and diagnostics to treat neurological disorders. The index has been created in conjunction with NeuroInsights, a research firm that monitors and analyzes trends in neurotechnology








Jul 14, 2007

New NIH Neurotech Funding Opportunities

Via Brain Waves


NIH announced new Federal funding to advance understanding of the nervous system, behavior or the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system diseases and disorders, through support of research, development, and enhancement of a wide range of neurotechnologies.

(SBIR PA-07-389

(STTR PA-07-390)

Apr 20, 2007

A virtual reality environment for designing and fitting neural prosthetic limbs

A virtual reality environment for designing and fitting neural prosthetic limbs.

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2007 Mar;15(1):9-15

Authors: Hauschild M, Davoodi R, Loeb GE

Building and testing novel prosthetic limbs and control algorithms for functional electrical stimulation (FES) is expensive and risky. Here, we describe a virtual reality environment (VRE) to facilitate and accelerate the development of novel systems. In the VRE, subjects/patients can operate a simulated limb to interact with virtual objects. Realistic models of all relevant musculoskeletal and mechatronic components allow the development of entire prosthetic systems in VR before introducing them to the patient. The system is used both by engineers as a development tool and by clinicians to fit prosthetic devices to patients.

Apr 15, 2007

Virtual Maps for the Blind

ScientificAmerican.com, April 4, 2007

Researchers in Greece have developed a new system that converts video into virtual, touchable maps for the blind.

The software tracks each structure and determines its shape and location. That data is used to create a three-dimensional grid of force fields for each structure.

Read the full article on Sciam

Mar 10, 2007

Connecting Your Brain to the Game

Via KurzweilAI.net









The startup company Emotiv Systems has developed a wearable EEG system that allows players to mentally interact with video games, by controlling the on-screen action.

From Technology Review 

Emotiv's system has three different applications. One is designed to sense facial expressions such as winks, grimaces, and smiles and transfer them, in real time, to an avatar. This could be useful in virtual-world games, such as Second Life, in which it takes a fair amount of training to learn how to express emotions and actions through a keyboard. Another application detects two emotional states, such as excitement and calm. Emotiv's chief product officer, Randy Breen, says that these unconscious cues could be used to modify a game's soundtrack or to affect the way that virtual characters interact with a player. The third set of software can detect a handful of conscious intentions that can be used to push, pull, rotate, and lift objects in a virtual world.

Jan 15, 2007

The Center for Neurotechnology Studies

From Brain-waves 

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies has announced the launch of The Center for Neurotechnology Studies (CNS) which intends on providing neutral, in-depth analysis of matters at the intersection of neuroscience and technology, neurotechnology. and public policy...


Read the full post

Nov 10, 2006


A great catch by the always-interesting NeuroFuture:


BrainWaves is a musical performance by cultured cortical cells interfacing with multielectrode arrays. Eight electrodes recorded neural patterns that were filtered to eight speakers after being sonified by robotic and human interpretation. Sound patterns followed neural spikes and waveforms, and also extended to video, with live visualizations of the music and neural patterns in front of a mesmerized audience. See a two minute video here (still image below). Teams from two research labs designed and engineered the project; read more from collaborator Gil Weinberg.


Nov 05, 2006

Nano-optical switches to restore sight?

From Emerging Technology Trends 

Californian researchers are using light to control biological nanomolecules and proteins. They think it's possible to put some of their nano-photoswitches in the cells of the retina, restoring light sensitivity in people with degenerative blindness such as macular degeneration...

Read the full article

Oct 26, 2006

Error mapping controller: a closed loop neuroprosthesis controlled by artificial neural networks

Error mapping controller: a closed loop neuroprosthesis controlled by artificial neural networks  

Authors: Alessandra Pedrocchi, Simona Ferrante, Elena De Momi and Giancarlo Ferrigno

Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, Oct 25 2006

Background: The design of an optimal neuroprostheses controller and its clinical use presents several challenges. First, the physiological system is characterized by highly inter-subjects varying properties and also by non stationary behaviour with time, due to conditioning level and fatigue. Secondly, the easiness to use in routine clinical practice requires experienced operators. Therefore, feedback controllers, avoiding long setting procedures, are required. Methods: The error mapping controller (EMC) here proposed uses artificial neural networks (ANNs) both for the design of an inverse model and of a feedback controller. A neuromuscular model is used to validate the performance of the controllers in simulations. The EMC performance is compared to a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) included in an anti wind-up scheme (called PIDAW) and to a controller with an ANN as inverse model and a PID in the feedback loop (NEUROPID). In addition tests on the EMC robustness in response to variations of the Plant parameters and to mechanical disturbances are carried out. Results: The EMC shows improvements with respect to the other controllers in tracking accuracy, capability to prolong exercise managing fatigue, robustness to parameter variations and resistance to mechanical disturbances. Conclusion: Different from the other controllers, the EMC is capable of balancing between tracking accuracy and mapping of fatigue during the exercise. In this way, it avoids overstressing muscles and allows a considerable prolongation of the movement. The collection of the training sets does not require any particular experimental setting and can be introduced in routine clinical practice.

Neural implant induces reorganization of neural circuits

Long-term motor cortex plasticity induced by an electronic neural implant

Nature advance online publication 22 October 2006 | doi:10.1038/nature05226

Authors: Andrew Jackson, Jaideep Mavoori and Eberhard E. Fetz

It has been proposed that the efficacy of neuronal connections is strengthened when there is a persistent causal relationship between presynaptic and postsynaptic activity. Such activity-dependent plasticity may underlie the reorganization of cortical representations during learning, although direct in vivo evidence is lacking. Here we show that stable reorganization of motor output can be induced by an artificial connection between two sites in the motor cortex of freely behaving primates. An autonomously operating electronic implant used action potentials recorded on one electrode to trigger electrical stimuli delivered at another location. Over one or more days of continuous operation, the output evoked from the recording site shifted to resemble the output from the corresponding stimulation site, in a manner consistent with the potentiation of synaptic connections between the artificially synchronized populations of neurons. Changes persisted in some cases for more than one week, whereas the output from sites not incorporated in the connection was unaffected. This method for inducing functional reorganization in vivo by using physiologically derived stimulus trains may have practical application in neurorehabilitation after injury.

Sep 30, 2006

Endoscopic eye tracking system for fMRI

Endoscopic eye tracking system for fMRI.

J Neurosci Methods. 2006 Sep 13;

Authors: Kanowski M, Rieger JW, Noesselt T, Tempelmann C, Hinrichs H

Here we introduce a new video-based real-time eye tracking system suitable for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) application. The described system monitors the subject's eye, which is illuminated with infrared light, directly at the headcoil using an endoscopic fibre optical system. This endoscopic technique assures reliable, easy-to-use and fast adjustment. It requires only a minimal amount of equipment at the headcoil and inside the examination room. Moreover, the short distance between the image acquisition optics and the eye provides high spatial tracking resolution. Interference from physiological head movement is effectively reduced by simultaneous tracking of both eye and head movements.

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