Brain Computer Interfaces
Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) restore function in patients who have paralysis or neuromuscular disorders. Most noninvasive BCIs use electroencephelography (EEG) for a control signal, while invasive BCIs traditionally use a population of individual neurons. The Moran Lab is investigating alternative control signals including local field potentials (LFPs) and electrocorticography (ECoG).
Our lab aims to understand how the brain controls voluntary upper arm movements to further our basic scientific understanding of motor cortex and apply this knowledge to restore function to patients with impaired descending motor pathways. It is well accepted that before we perform a voluntary arm movement, our brains must compute a series of sensorimotor transformations. Past research studies have indicated that motor cortical neuronal discharge can be correlated to extrinsic kinematics, intrinsic kinematics, intrinsic dynamics and muscle forces. However, all of these studies involved reaching tasks where all the aforementioned variables are highly correlated. This research project will attempt to formulate a task that is able to separate out these variables and reduce their intercorrelation.
Many advances have been made in the development of neuroregenerative therapies and musculo-stimulatory systems, however, few medical interventions are available for individuals suffering from sensorimotor loss. The development of artificial neuroprosthetics, devices capable of interfacing nervous tissue offer the most promising solution for motor and sensory recovery. Neural probes designed to interface peripheral nerves offer great potential for therapeutic benefit, offering precise motor control of the extremities, accurate recording of sensory stimuli, and bi-directional neural control of integrated prosthetic devices.Our primary goal is to design and implement novel bipolar sieve electrodes capable of achieving this intra-fascicular interface with peripheral nervous tissue.
The lab examines the neural control of movement through recording cells and field potentials in motor regions of cortex. A 16 channel system is currently employed to record up to 32 cells simultaneously. Using this data, information coding of the upper extremity in the brain is explored. Current studies include trying to discern how neural activity relates to features of movement such as position and velocity as well as other extrinsic parameters. Another study focuses on how the brain codes movement in joint based coordinates. Finally, local field potentials and electrocortical potentials are recorded from motor area of the brain as well and these signals are compared to cell recordings to analyze their relative information content. This work is supported by the Whitaker Foundation.