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Background

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.

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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 conditions.

The NET relies on investigating and intervening in neuroscience challenges employing engineering principles by:

  1. Developing electrophysiological and cellular imaging tools for monitoring activity from large ensembles of neurons in behaving animals;
  2. Developing a network of intelligent microimplants that will enable unprecedented spatial scale of distributed sensing of neural signals and targeted stimulations;
  3. 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;
  4. 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).

 

Faculty Contributors

Braden Brinkman, Neurobiology and Behavior

Giancarlo La Camera, Neurobiology and Behavior

Craig Evinger , Neurobiology and Behavior

Guanchao Feng,  Electrical and Computer Engineering

Aflredo Fontanini , Neurobiology and Behavior

Shaoyu Ge , Neurobiology and Behavior

Arianna Maffei, Neurobiology and Behavior

 

Sima Mofakham, Neurosurgery

Memming Park , Neurobiology and Behavior

Joshua Plotkin, Neurobiology and Behavior

Emre Salman, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Maya Shelly , Neurobiology and Behavior

Milutin Stanacevic, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Qiaojie Xiong , Neurobiology and Behavior