Upcoming presentation on neural prosthetics
I figure someone reading this has got to find this interesting.
On both tomorrow and Friday, Dr. Theodore W. Berger from the University of Southern California will be delivering a presentation titled, "Toward Replacement Parts for the Brain: Implantable Biomimetic Electronics as Neural Prostheses for Lost Cognitive Function."
From the description emailed out to department employees:
Abstract: Dr. Berger will present results of a multi-disciplinary project that is developing a microchip-based neural prosthesis for the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for the formation of long-term memories. Damage to the hippocampus is frequently associated with epilepsy, stroke, and dementia (Alzheimer's disease), and is considered to underlie the memory deficits related to these neurological conditions. The essential goals of Dr. Berger’s multi-laboratory effort include: (1) experimental study of neuron and neural network function -- how does the hippocampus encode information?, (2) formulation of biologically realistic models of neural system dynamics -- can that encoding process be described mathematically to realize a predictive model of how the hippocampus responds to any event?, (3) microchip implementation of neural system models -- can the mathematical model be realized as a set of electronic circuits to achieve parallel processing, rapid computational speed, and miniaturization?, and (4) creation of hybrid neuron-silicon interfaces -- can structural and functional connections between electronic devices and neural tissue be achieved for long-term, bi-directional communication with the brain? By integrating solutions to these component problems, we are realizing a microchip-based model of hippocampal nonlinear dynamics that can perform the same function as part of the hippocampus. Through bi-directional communication with other neural tissue that normally provides the inputs and outputs to/from a damaged hippocampal area, the biomimetic model could serve as a neural prosthesis. A proof-of-concept will be presented in which the CA3 region of the hippocampal slice is surgically removed, and is replaced by a microchip model of CA3 nonlinear dynamics – the “hybrid” hippocampal circuit displays normal physiological properties. How the work in brain slices is being extended to behaving animals also will be described.
I think that sounds wicked awesome. This is the third thing in the last week that I've heard out of USC that sounds interesting, so they're taking a huge leap up in my grad school considerations.
Maybe I should find out where it is, then.
Info for the presentations:
Title: "Toward Replacement Parts for the
Brain: Implantable Biomimetic Electronics as
Neural Prostheses for Lost Cognitive Function"
Thursday, June 22, 2006
3:30 - 4:30 pm
402 Walter Library
Friday, June 23, 2006
12;00 - 1:00 PM
2-101 Hasselmo Hall
These things are always open to the public and generally come with free food of some sort. So if you'd like to join me in a free lunch, swing on by!