Rewiring the Brain with Neurochip

Achievement date: 
2018
Outcome/accomplishment: 

A team at the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) at the University of Washington (UW), has advanced its Neurochip technology to autonomously strengthen targeted neural connections in the brain. The newly developed mathematical model uses closed-loop stimulation, analyzing neural activity without human intervention, to achieve this feat.

Impact/benefits: 

As a result of this achievement, CNT’s Neurochip is a step closer to directly benefiting individuals with impaired neurological function resultant from strokes, spinal cord injuries, and other neurological disorders. The new model makes the autonomous chip smarter making it better able to consistently reproduce intentional connections between the brain and body.

Explanation/Background: 

Transferring a function from one part of the brain to another after injury is a type of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change continuously throughout one’s life. Engineered neuroplasticity is a cutting edge field that proposes to use electronics and other devices to help develop these new connections in the nervous system. As a pioneering institution in the field, CNT developed and disseminated the Neurochip as a platform for advancing engineered neuroplasticity.

The mathematical model developed by Guillaume Lajoie, Adrienne Fairhall, and Eberhard Fetz advance the Neurochip through closed-loop stimulation, improving the Neurochip’s ability to autonomously guide the brain into rewiring targeted functions. Closed-loop systems operate without any human intervention and are foundational to the Neurochip’s autonomous nature.

This work is part of research made possible through the Neurochip’s dissemination to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), San Diego State University (SDSU), and other research partners around the world.