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Neural prosthesis restores behavior after brain injury, as reported in IEEE Spectrum

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and University of Kansas Medical Center have restored function using a neural prosthesis in a biologic model of brain injury.
 
Ultimately, the team hopes to develop a device that rapidly and substantially improves function after brain injury in humans. There is no such commercial treatment for the 1.5 million Americans, including soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or the nearly 800,000 stroke victims who suffer weakness or paralysis in the United States, annually.

 The prosthesis, called a brain-machine-brain interface, is a closed-loop microelectronic system. It records signals from one part of the brain, processes them in real time, and then bridges the injury by stimulating a second part of the brain that had lost connectivity.
 
Their work is published online this week in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work was also featured in IEEE Spectrum, the flagship publication and website for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
 
“If you use the device to couple activity from one part of the brain to another, is it possible to induce recovery from TBI? That’s the core of this investigation,” said Pedram Mohseni, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve, who built the brain prosthesis.
 
“We found that, yes, it is possible to use a closed-loop neural prosthesis to facilitate repair of a brain injury,” he said.
 
The device amplifies signals, which are called neural action potentials and produced by the neurons in the anterior of the brain. An algorithm separates these signals, recorded as brain spike activity, from noise and other artifacts. With each spike detected, the microchip sends a pulse of electric current to stimulate neurons in the posterior part of the brain, artificially connecting the two brain regions.
 
Co-authors of the study include David J. Guggenmos, Scott Barbay and Caleb Dunham, of the department of molecular and integrative physiology, and Jonathan D. Mahnken, of the department of biostatistics, at Kansas University; and Meysam Azin, of QualComm, San Diego, who at the time was a PhD student in Mohseni’s lab at Case Western Reserve’s electrical engineering and computer science department.
 
The work was funded by grants from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the American Heart Association. The Advanced Platform Technology (APT) Center, a Veterans Affairs Research Center of Excellence in Cleveland supported the fabrication costs for the microchip in the prosthesis.

Learn more about the research.