Creating a neuroprosthesis for active tactile exploration of textures


December 2019

Original paper: J. E. O’Doherty*, S. Shokur *, L. E. Medina, M. A. Lebedev, M. A. L. Nicolelis. Creating a neuroprosthesis for active tactile exploration of textures (2019). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Solaiman Shokur

Sensory neuroprostheses offer the promise of restoring perceptual function to people with impaired sensation [1], [2]. In such devices, diminished sensory modalities (e.g., hearing [3], vision [4], [5], or cutaneous touch [6]–[8]) are reenacted through streams of artificial input to the nervous system, typically using electrical stimulation of nerve fibers in the periphery [9] or neurons in the central nervous system [10]. Restored cutaneous touch, in particular, would be of great benefit for the users of upper-limb prostheses, who place a high priority on the ability to perform functions without the necessity to constantly engage visual attention [11]. This could be achieved through the addition of artificial somatosensory channels to the prosthetic device [1].

IR-powered, ultra-small, implantable optogenetic stimulator


December 2019

Takashi Tokuda1, Makito Haruta2, Kiyotaka Sasagawa2, and Jun Ohta2

1:    Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan
2:    Graduate School of Science and Technology, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

Corresponding author: Takashi Tokuda

Since the rise of optogenetics, various types of optical stimulators have been proposed and realized. These include wired and wireless, single-site and multi-site, and with and without integration of other measurement / stimulation modalities. Naturally there is a trend to pursue very-small, light-weight devices that can be implanted or directly attached to animals. Such devices enable freely moving optogenetic experiments. Freely moving situations are preferred especially in behavioral experiments. Some research groups have been actively developing small, wireless, optogenetic stimulators [1-4]. Considering the importance of small size and lightness, most of the devices are developed with battery-less designs, meaning that power is wirelessly transferred during the operation. Realistic power transfer schemes for such devices are limited to either electromagnetic (RF-) or photovoltaic (PV-) powering.

Notes from the 2019 IEEE SMC Brain-Machine Interface Workshop


December 2019

Tiago H. Falk, Christoph Guger, Michael Smith, and Ljiljana Trajković

From October 6-9, 2019, the IEEE Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) Workshop was held in Bari, Italy, as part of the Annual IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC) Society Conference. This is the flagship Workshop organized by the IEEE SMC Brain-Machine Interface Systems Technical Committee. The goal of the Workshop is to provide a forum for attendees to present recent research results, to interact with experts from around the world from both academia and industry, and to receive hands-on training across different aspects of the neurotechnology development chain. This year, the theme of the Workshop was “From Assistive Technologies to Affective Computing: What’s Next for Neurotechnologies?” Its focus was placed on how industry and industry-academia partnerships have been paving the road for next-generation BMIs.

BIO(BRAIN)-X International Summer School


October 2019

The 18th International Summer School on BIO(BRAIN)-X: Biocomplexity, Biodesign, Bioinnovation, Biomanufacturing and Bioentrepreneurship, sponsored by the NSF, the University of Houston Biomedical Engineering Department and technically co-sponsored by the IEEE Brain Initiative and the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, was held at the Chania Academy, Crete, June 9-15, 2019. This summer school was a continuation of previous summer schools. Twenty-five students and eight distinguished faculty attended the 18th summer school. The NSF, the IEEE Brain Initiative and the University of Houston co-sponsored 25 students.

Transcranial Focal Stimulation Using Concentric Ring Electrodes


October 2019

Walter G. Besio

• Statement of the challenge/opportunity: gaps, opportunities, and drivers

About 12 in 100 people worldwide, or 800 million, are suffering from neurological disorders such as epilepsy (having multiple recurrent seizures which are uncontrollable electrical activity of the brain), chronic pain, Parkinson’s Disease, etc. [1]. Around 450 million people worldwide are affected by psychiatric disorders [1]. Despite decades of research, new drugs, and advances in surgical therapy, 30% or more of the patients with epilepsy or psychiatric disorders do not respond to medical treatment or suffer from its severe side effects [2]. Epilepsy surgery and devices can control seizures in some patients with drug-resistant epilepsy but require advanced and often invasive diagnostic neurophysiology techniques. New solutions are needed for alternatives to drugs and to more invasive and expensive surgeries.

Regulation of arousal via online neurofeedback improves human performance in a demanding sensory motor task


October 2019

Josef Faller, Jennifer Cummings, Sameer Saproo, Paul Sajda

High arousal can adversely affect task performance. Walking over a balance beam that sits 10 cm over the floor, for example, will be easier for most people than walking over a beam that is fixed at a height of 10 m, where a misstep could lead to grave injury. Another example is referred to as “pilot induced oscillations” (PIOs), where airplane pilots – under high arousal – dangerously overcompensate for small control errors in a way that can quickly escalate to losing control over and/or crashing the plane. In 1908, Yerkes & Dodson first formally described an inverse U-shape relationship between arousal and performance under high task difficulty [1]( see Figure 1.A). From the perspective of neurophysiology, there is evidence in support of the hypothesis that an interplay between the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and locus coeruleus (LC) – regions implicated in monitoring task performance and mediating stress responses – may play a critical role in explaining this phenomenon [2,3](see Figure 1.B). In a previous study, our group identified EEG signatures of PIO propensity or task-dependent arousal in a virtual flight task, a so called “boundary avoidance task” (BAT), where difficulty progressively increases over 90 seconds to induce PIOs and task failure, i.e. crashing the plane into a boundary [4](see Figure 1.C).

Notes from the Cybathlon BCI series 2019


October 2019

Ricardo Chavarriaga

Development of brain-computer interface technologies is a long term endeavour that faces multiple challenges. The transition from the controlled conditions of research laboratories to real-life is paved with uncertainties about multiple factors that affect human and machine performance. The Cybathlon tries to address these difficulties by setting up an event in which people with disabilities can compete on several disciplines where they perform day-to-day activities using state-of-the-art assistive technologies [1].

The Possibilities to Augment Physical Capabilities using Brain Machine Interfaces


October 2019

Christian I. Penaloza and Shuichi Nishio

Augmenting Human Capabilities

As humans, we have always tried to augment our physical and cognitive capabilities to enhance the strength or endurance of our bodies or minds. Although the concept of human augmentation is not new, with the fast development of new robotic systems, AI and genetic engineering, it has accelerated in the last decade and will continue accelerating even further in the upcoming decades. The expected outcome will be a new kind of human beings, superhumans or cyborgs, that will seamlessly integrate machines with their human bodies and will have unprecedented capabilities to achieve things that today’s humans are not capable of.

Shedding light on traumatic brain bleeding with Infrascanner


April 2019

Ayaz H., Izzetoglu K., Izzetoglu M., Onaral B., Ben-Dor B.

Early identification of intracranial hematomas in patients with traumatic brain injury is crucial for the successful outcome of the intervention, specifically since expansion of the hemorrhage can result in debilitating and sometimes fatal outcomes. ‘Golden period’ refers to the time immediately following head trauma where assessment of the neurological condition and medical intervention of a victim is most needed and can significantly reduce the mortality and morbidity rate. Led by Britton Chance, we and an extended team from University of Pennsylvania, Baylor and Drexel Universities developed a handheld brain hematoma detector for early triage and diagnosis of head trauma victims….

About BrainInsight

BrainInsight, the IEEE Brain Initiative eNewsletter, is a quarterly online publication, featuring practical and timely information and forward-looking commentary on neurotechnologies. BrainInsight describes recent breakthroughs in research, primers on methods of interests, or report recent events such as conferences or workshops.

Managing Editor

Ricardo Chavarriaga
Center for Neuroprosthetics, EPFL, Switzerland
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