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Fri, Apr 8

Speaker: Doug Weber (University of Pittsburgh, Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Dept. of Bioengineering)

Title: Feeling, wired: somatosensory neural interfaces for neural prostheses

Abstract: Over the last 2 decades, advances in microsystems engineering have enabled the development of neural prostheses that interface directly with neurons in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. These so-called "neural interfaces" serve as bi-directional communication channels, allowing information to be read-out by decoding signals recorded from neurons or written-in via patterned electrical stimulation of neurons. We are exploiting these technologies for two purposes: 1) to advance our understanding of how the nervous system senses and controls limb motion, and 2) to develop advanced prosthetic devices that interface directly with the nervous system for control. My talk will focus on research in my lab that is aimed at understanding how somatosensory neurons encode information about touch, force, limb position and motion. By recording and decoding the output of these neurons, we can provide limb-state feedback for controlling functional electrical stimulation (FES) systems to reanimate paralyzed limbs. Conversely, patterned stimulation of somatosensory neurons can be used to provide amputees with touch and proprioception for prosthetic limbs. Such feedback will be essential for users of the dexterous prosthetic limbs developed recently by the DARPA-funded Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program. Ultimately, these bidirectional neural interfaces will make the prosthesis feel and function like a native limb.

Host: Lee Miller