DARPA Creating Neural Interfaces for the Brain
According to an article published on July 10, 2017, DRAPA has introduced a program called Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), for which five grant recipients have been selected to develop the new technology and will receive million dollars each to work on the project development. These grants include Brown University, Columbia University, The Seeing and Hearing Foundation, the John B. Pierce Laboratory, Paradromics Inc., and the University of California, Berkeley.
The program aims to develop an implantable system which can provide precise communication between the brain and the digital world. The electrical and chemical signals in the brain would be converted by the brain-computer interfaces, into a more machine readable language for effective communication. It is also equipped at converting the machine readable data back into electrical and chemical signals. The operation targets at communicating up to 1 million neurons out of the total 86 billion neurons used by our brains.
The developmental process will involve two main stages, the development of hardware and software, and refining the technology and further studying it on seeking FDA approval.
The team from Columbia is working on the visual cortex with an aim to develop a non-penetrating bioelectric interface enabling computers to see what we see. The Seeing and Hearing Foundation team is aiming to develop a camera-based, artificial retina that could be external worn over the eyes, enabling sight for the blind. Similarly, the JBP lab is modifying neurons to make them capable of bioluminescence and responsive to optogenetic stimulation. The end result of their work will lead to the development of a giant artificial eye plugging directly into the brain’s vision sensor. The Paradromics team is developing an implantable device that will enable victims to relearn speech, by using an array of penetrating microwire electrodes that stimulate neurons.
The UC Berkeley’s intends building a light field microscope that can modulate as million neurons simultaneously, with the help of which they can help restore vision for the blind and restore sensation of touch for prosthetic limb users. On the other hand, Brown University is developing a cortical intranet by scattering around a 100,000 salt grain-sized neurograins that will record and stimulate neurons.
he development of this project will lead to a better understanding of the brain, thus leading to new therapeutic strategies that involve neural stimulation of the brain.
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