Perception, cognition, emotion and movement are the product of brain activity (see
figure). Intelligent behavior is the result of coordinated, spatio-temporal patterns
of activity of large ensembles of neurons. Dysregulation of these patterns is directly
linked to neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. While conventional brain imaging
(CT, MRI, PET) and EEG are essential tools for unveiling the macroscopic dynamics
of brain activity, they are limited in their ability to resolve activity at the cellular
level. Current efforts in the fields of neuroscience and engineering have concentrated
on developing methods for recording large ensembles of single neurons in behaving
animals. However, monitoring, interpreting and controlling these cellular dynamics
require the development of new technologies and computational tools.
The main focus of research for the neuroengineering thrust (NET) is the development
of integrated technologies for recording, analyzing and stimulating brain activity.
These technologies will allow us to relate neural dynamics to behavior and directly
control perception, cognition, emotion or movement (see figure). The ultimate goal
is the production of closed-loop systems capable of interpreting and adaptively modulating
activity in brain circuits and restore healthy brain function. On the way to achieve
this goal, the NET will produce innovative neuro-technologies for investigating the
relationship between brain activity and behavior in physiological and pathological
The NET relies on investigating and intervening in neuroscience challenges employing
engineering principles by:
Developing electrophysiological and cellular imaging tools for monitoring activity
from large ensembles of neurons in behaving animals;
Developing a network of intelligent microimplants that will enable unprecedented spatial
scale of distributed sensing of neural signals and targeted stimulations;
Using tools of computational neuroscience, signal processing, machine learning, control
theory, statistics and electronic devices in order to interpret neural activity in
real time and adaptively control neural stimulation;
Developing methods for brain stimulation via electrophysiological, opto- or chemo-genetic
and ultrasound methods.
We conceive the NET as an incubator of neuro-technology and a facilitator of collaborative
grant proposals (NIH and NSF Brain Initiative Grants, DOD, DARPA, etc).