Seminar: Unlocking movement: helping paralyzed people with brain-machine interfaces

CNE Distinguished Lecture Series

Prof. Richard Andersen, PhD
Friday, March 8, 2024
4:00 PM EDT / Reception to Follow
Riggs Library, Library Walk,
Washington, DC

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Every year, thousands of people suffer spinal cord injuries at the level of the neck that lead to tetraplegia, the loss of movement and feeling in all four limbs. We study how the brain encodes movement and speech, with the goal of developing brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) that can help people with paralysis by allowing them to control external assistive devices with their thoughts.  A BMI consists of tiny electrodes that can record the activities of large numbers of cortical neurons, together with machine learning algorithms that can interpret the person’s intent based on the recorded neural activity.  We use a novel approach to BMIs: implanting electrodes in a variety of specialized cortical areas rather than in the motor cortex alone.  This approach has enabled study participants to control robotic limbs and computers that, in turn, have enabled them to drink a beverage, play a computer piano, use software, and drive an automobile. “Bi-directional” BMIs can supplement the control of a robotic limb with an artificially induced sense of touch in previously insensate hands and arms. The team is also working on BMIs with the potential to decode the inner dialog we have with ourselves toward the end of restoring speech.

Learn more about Prof. Richard Andersen, PhD: https://www.vis.caltech.edu/