Congratulations to CNT Diversity Director and DO-IT Director Sheryl Burgstahler who received the 2021 Leadership in Equity and Inclusion in Online Learning Award from The Online Learning Consortium.
Congratulations to CNT Diversity Director and DO-IT Director Sheryl Burgstahler who received the 2021 Leadership in Equity and Inclusion in Online Learning Award from The Online Learning Consortium.
Congratulations to University of Washington CNT member Tim Brown for winning the 2021 David Roscoe Award for an Early-Career Essay on Science, Ethics, and Society for his piece titled Moral Bioenhancement as Potential Means of Oppression.
Congratulations to CNT members Sara Goering (University of Washington) and Joseph Stramondo (San Diego State University) for their appointments to the editorial board of the new Journal of Philosophy of Disability.
Congratulations to Marc-Joseph Antonini (laboratory of MIT CNT Deputy Director Polina Anikeeva) for defending his doctoral dissertation successfully.
On March 27, Ben Ferleger, who recently received his doctoral degree from the University of Washington Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and conducted research as a graduate student in the lab of Center for Neurotechnology members Howard Chizeck and Jeffrey Herron, was named the 2021 recipient of the CNT Best Student Paper Award for Neurotechnology Advancement. This award was established by Joseph and Anusha Fernando in 2020 to recognize and promote a technical paper authored by a CNT-affiliated student that makes identifiable contributions in neurotechnology or human-machine interaction.
Ferleger was selected as the award recipient for a paper he wrote in 2020 while working in Chizeck and Herron’s lab, “Fully implanted adaptive deep brain stimulation in freely moving essential tremor patients.” His paper was selected based on its significance and potential impact, its technical content, the originality of the proposed approach and the clarity of the solutions he presented. The award provides the recipient with $1,000, which will enable Ferleger to travel to a conference, or attend a virtual conference, in 2021/22.
On March 9 2021, the University of Washington Brain Awareness Week Open House was held virtually via a Zoom webinar. The Open House was part of International Brain Awareness Week, a time for neuroscientists around the world to share their excitement for brain research. A total of 406 students from elementary school to high school joined the webinar. Although most students were from the Puget Sound region, some students attended schools in Texas, New York, Wisconsin, Kentucky and even Argentina.
To start the open house, CNT Executive Director and Education Director Eric Chudler provided an interactive introduction to neuroscience. Following this presentation, a panel of six neuroscientists joined the webinar to answer students’ questions. On the panel were CNT Co-Directors Rajesh Rao and Chet Moritz, CNT computational neuroscience research thrust leader Eric Shea-Brown, as well as graduate students Holly Hake, Samantha Sun and Theodros (Teddy) Haile.
The UW BAW Open House was sponsored by a grant from the Dana Foundation to the Pacific Cascade Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience.
Below are links to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) facts and resources from Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) core and partner institutions. We hope this information will help support you during this challenging time. Information is updated frequently as we all adjust to the ever-changing realities COVID-19 brings. Check back often for new information as we navigate this transition together.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): MIT’s COVID-19 Info Center
San Diego State University: The Coronavirus (COVID-19)
University of Washington: Novel coronavirus & COVID-19: facts and resources
Caltech: Coronavirus Information
Morehouse College: Several Novel coronavirus-related links are at the top of Morehouse College’s homepage.
Spelman College: Coronavirus update
Southwestern College: Special Health Updates
University of British Columbia: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and UBC’s response
Helpful behavior during pandemic tied to recognizing common humanity (Study co-authored by CNT Co-Director Rajesh Rao)
The Weill Neurohub, launched November 2019, is supporting five inaugural high-impact neuroscience projects that include researchers at the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT). A pioneering research network, the Weill Neurohub unites three premier West Coast public universities (the University of Washington, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco) to advance treatments for brain diseases.
The initial project funding will support the development of foundational platforms and tools in four priority areas — imaging, genomics and molecular therapies, computation and data analysis, and engineering — deemed most likely to fuel new therapeutic discoveries across the three institutions.
CNT members included are Bing Brunton, Chet Moritz, Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann, Amy Orsborn, Azadeh Yazdan and Adrienne Fairhall.
More information is on the Weill Neurohub website.
CNT researchers at the University of Washington, in partnership with the CNT’s industry affiliate, Medtronic, are developing brain-controlled deep brain stimulators, which can be used to better treat Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released a video featuring Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) researchers in Howard Chizeck’s lab at the University of Washington (UW) and their study participant, Fred Foy. The video was produced for NSF Science Nation, a series distributed via streaming services such as YouTube and Roku, as well as media outlets across the country.
In 2017, Chizeck’s research team, in partnership with the CNT’s industry affiliate, Medtronic, achieved the first in-human use of a brain-controlled deep brain stimulator for treating Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. Essential tremor is the world’s most common movement disorder, affecting 7 million people per year in the U.S. alone. For Foy, that meant he could better control tremors in his hands, improving his ability to write and better execute everyday tasks that required fine motor dexterity.
“Having the implant wasn’t the most pleasant thing in my life, but it worked, and that’s what was important.” Foy said in the video.
Chizeck said that the project was aimed at improving the lives of individuals like Foy who have essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that could be treated with deep brain stimulation. By engineering a closed-loop system, where the user essentially “thinks” their device off and on, the user activates the stimulator only when needed, and thus battery life can be extended.
“Having to replace the battery is a medical expense and has a medical risk, so if you can extend the battery lifetime, that’s a laudable goal,” Chizeck said in the video.
Foy said that his implant helped greatly to improve his tremors. He expressed the desire to help others through his participation in this research study.
“I just hope they [the CNT researchers] learn enough, so they can [further] improve the science,” Foy said in the video. “That will give other people, or encourage other people, to have faith in what they’re doing.”
Read more about this CNT research project on the UW News website.
Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) member, Frederic Gilbert, was interviewed and quoted in a recent Nature article, “The ethics of brain-computer interfaces.” The piece focuses on ethical issues surrounding development of neurotechnology and loosely tracks Gilbert’s experience with “Patient 6,” a research study participant who had a predictive brain-computer interface (BCI) implanted to help manage her epileptic seizures. The participant found herself bonding with the BCI, coming to view it as a part of herself in a relationship Gilbert described as “radical symbiosis.”
“You grow gradually into it and get used to it, so it then becomes a part of every day,” she told Gilbert. “It became me,” she said.
Gilbert and other ethicists studying neuroethics at the CNT track real-life case studies such as this, studying ethical issues such as an individual’s sense of identity and agency, as well as related privacy and security issues that are arising from emerging neural engineering technologies. This work helps scientists, engineers and neurosurgeons at the CNT integrate ethical concerns and considerations into neurotechology research, development and clinical applications.
Learn more about Gilbert’s research and Patient 6’s experience as a study participant in the full article appearing in Nature.
Richard Andersen, a leader of the Center for Neurotechnology’s (CNT’s) Experimental Neuroscience research thrust, has written the cover story for Scientific American’s April 2019 issue. The article, “Machines That Translate Wants into Actions,” gives an overview of Andersen’s research focused on brain areas that formulate a person’s intention to move.
Andersen’s lab concentrates on development of brain-machine interfaces for tetraplegic subjects, people who are unable to move either their upper or lower limbs because of upper spinal cord injuries. His team specializes in studying the posterior parietal cortex, where plans to initiate movements begin. By uncovering fundamental neuroscientific principles that explain how the brain operates, Andersen’s team is contributing to improving design of neural devices engineered to assist and empower people with disabilities. For example, study participants in Andersen’s lab have used neural devices to operate a mechanical prosthesis and virtual reality software through their thoughts alone.
“I would like to convey the satisfaction of doing basic research and making it available to patients,” Andersen wrote in his piece for Scientific American. “Fundamental science is necessary to both advance knowledge and develop medical therapies. To be able to then transfer these discoveries into a clinical setting brings the research endeavor to its ultimate realization. A scientist is left with an undeniable feeling of personal fulfillment in sharing with patients their delight at being able to move a robotic limb to interact again with the physical world.”
Read Andersen’s article, “Machines That Translate Wants into Actions” in Scientific American.
Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) Executive and Education Director, Eric Chudler, and former CNT University Education Manager, Lise Johnson, are authors of a new book, “Worried? Science Investigates Some of Life’s Common Concerns,” which uses scientific reasoning to get to the root of everyday anxieties.
Chudler and Johnson recently did an interview with Innovation Hub, “What’s Worth Worrying About,” that gives an overview of the book, and they will be launching its release at Third Place Books at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 7, 2019 and University Book Store at 6:00—8:00 p.m., Friday, March 8.
For more information, see the Third Place Books website and University Book Store Facebook page.
The Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) will be participating in the Bill & Melinda Gates Center Open House from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. this Friday, March 1, 2019. The event is free and open to the public.
Join us to celebrate the grand opening of our new home on the UW campus, the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering, interact with CNT demonstrations, hear from CNT leadership, and visit other research labs and demos throughout the building. An RSVP on our website is recommended but is not required (it’s fine to drop-in).
Wireless Power and Data for Neural Devices: At this hardware demo, you will see designs for enhancing the center’s Neurochip research by creating wireless power and data solutions for engineering neuroplasticity in the brain and spinal cord.
Noninvasive Spinal Stimulation for Rehabilitation: Uncovers principles of engineered neuroplasticity. At this spinal stimulation demo, you can experience the non-invasive electrical stimulation being used to induce plasticity and improve function for people that have experienced a spinal cord injury, like Joe Beatty and Jessica Owen.
Brain-Computer Interfaces: Ever imagined controlling objects through thought alone? Discover the inner Jedi in you at this wearable brain-computer interface demo where you will be able to test your ability to control a cursor using your brain signals. Watch a visualization of your brain signals and learn how techniques in computer science and engineering are allowing CNT researchers to decode brain states and meld artificial intelligence (AI) and the mind.
Deep Brain Stimulation and Neuroethics (Friday only): What issues do we need to get ahead of before computers are implanted in our brains? This demo showcases how CNT neuroethics researchers and neural engineers are working together as an integrated team when developing cutting-edge ethically-informed neurotechnologies. You will learn how brain-controlled electrical stimulation of deep structures within the brain is helping patients with neurological conditions such as essential tremor and Parkinson's disease. Interact with neuroethics researchers to learn how ethical issues such as identity, privacy, agency and moral or legal responsibility are intertwined with neural technologies.
Education Team Demonstrations: The CNT regularly hosts school groups and introduces them to basic concepts in neural engineering—inspiring the next generation of neural engineers! The team will showcase some of the demos used for these tours and educational outreach.
For more information, contact the CNT’s Communication Director, Wayne Gillam. Learn more about the center’s move to the Gates Center in our website article, "The center prepares for a new on-campus home."
Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) members at the University of Washington (UW), in collaboration with NeuroRecovery Technologies, are developing a novel, non-invasive therapeutic approach for people with spinal cord injury, which has been shown to promote long-term recovery of hand and arm function.
This research study, led by CNT Co-Director, Chet Moritz, and CNT student members at the UW, Fatma Inanici and Soshi Samejima, was recently featured on KING 5 News. The televised news segment focused on the experience of one of the study’s participants, Joe Beatty. The innovative treatment has improved function in Beatty's legs, as well as his hands and arms, and in the piece, Beatty describes some of the functional improvements he has experienced.
“You saw me walk out here, six months ago there was no way I could do it, “ Beatty said to KING 5 News. “So, now I’m on the treadmill walking, on the cardiac walker, I’ll do eight minutes straight. I couldn’t do that months ago.”
The exact mechanism that is re-activating nerves in the spinal cord and making them receptive to descending signals from the brain is currently not fully understood, but the therapeutic impact is unmistakeable.
“The current theory is that we are stimulating the spinal cord electrically, using a fancy waveform that allows the energy to pass through the skin painlessly and activate the spinal circuits. And then that activation of the spinal circuits in combination with Joe’s attempts to move generated by his brain activity is what results in his initial ability to move when he might otherwise not be able to,” Moritz explained to KING 5. “Now, what leads to long-term improvements, we’re much less sure about. But there is evidence of what we call neuroplasticity or changes in the connections between neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. And we believe that by practicing activities with the stimulator running, Joe is able to actually change the wiring between his brain and his spinal cord, and that is what leads to long-term improvements.”
Learn more about this groundbreaking research on our website and in the study’s associated research paper. For more information, contact Chet Moritz.
Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) Co-Director, Chet Moritz, was recently quoted in The New York Times, Newsweek, Scientific American, Forbes and Nature in regard to research studies focused on an experimental, pacemaker-like device that offers new hope for better treating spinal cord injuries.
“The exciting thing about these findings is that they hold out the promise that spinal cord injuries can be cured, to an extent that restores walking,” Moritz said in the Times' article, “Once Paralyzed, Three Men Take Steps Again With Spinal Implant.”
These articles all ran on or close to the same day that Moritz' paper, “A giant step for spinal cord injury research” published in Nature Neuroscience. In his piece, Moritz provides an overview, analysis and in-depth commentary on this latest development in spinal cord injury research.
This week, CSNE Engineering Education Research Manager, Kristen Bergsman, won “Best Paper in Division” for the Design in Engineering Education division of the 2018 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her paper, “The ‘Structured’ Engineering Design Notebook: A New Tool for Design Thinking within a Studio Design Course,” was selected from five finalist papers out of a total of 52 papers accepted into the division.
The paper presented Bergsman’s research study of an engineering design notebook that she and CSNE University Education Manager, Lise Johnson, co-created and how the notebook was used by students in Johnson’s 2017 Neural Engineering Tech Studio class at the University of Washington.
“Lise and I collaborated on a re-design of her popular studio design course. One of the things that came out of our conversation, based on Lise’s experiences with previous iterations of her course, was a need for a tool to help engineering students learn to engage in engineering design, project management and design thinking and to support them in developing skills in documentation,” Bergsman said. “It is common practice for engineering students to be told to document their design processes in a blank notebook, but we felt that we could create a structured notebook—one with prompts, tasks, and design thinking tools—that would better support students’ design learning.”
The award came with a cash prize of $500. Johnson and Bergsman plan to publish the design notebook to make it widely available to engineering faculty and students. Bergsman also plans to submit the manuscript for publication in an engineering education research journal. The design notebook will be used for a third time when the class is next offered by the CSNE in Winter Quarter 2019.
The CSNE was well-represented at the ASEE conference, with Bergsman presenting a second paper, co-authored with CSNE Executive Director and Education Director, Eric Chudler and Jill Weber from the Center for Research and Learning on a longitudinal program evaluation of the CSNE’s Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program.
Two RET participants, Juanita High School science teacher, Alexandra Pike, and Seattle Girls School science teacher, Phelana Pang, also presented in a pre-college engineering poster session about their classroom enactments of neural engineering curriculum units (view Pike’s paper here and Pang’s paper here). Additionally, Bergsman shared the CSNE’s teacher-authored curriculum units during a curriculum exchange session.
For more information about the CSNE’s participation in ASEE or Bergsman’s study, contact Kristen Bergsman.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members, Scott Bellman, Sheryl Burgstahler, and Eric Chudler, are describing in detail the CSNE’s successful practices for encouraging participation of individuals with disabilities. Their paper, published April 16 in American Behavioral Scientist, presents methods, tools and materials that can be used by others to increase the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.
The methods described in the paper include recruitment and engagement tactics, raising visibility of people with disabilities, ensuring accessibility, creating a culture of inclusion, and strategies for data collection and evaluation. These methods were designed to ensure that the CSNE is welcoming and accessible to a wide range of people and to recruit individuals with disabilities into significant roles that support the center’s mission. According to the paper, these efforts resulted in the engagement of individuals with disabilities in the CSNE’s operations, activities and research at a higher rate compared to other Engineering Research Centers nationwide.
The CSNE is committed to increasing diversity and broadening participation in STEM by people and groups that are traditionally underrepresented in these fields, including people with disabilities. In addition to the methods described in the paper, the CSNE actively promotes diversity through a strong partnership with the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) program and Math Science Upward Bound (STEMsub) at the University of Washington. The center also partners with the San Diego MESA Alliance, MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs and Office of Minority Education, as well as Morehouse and Spelman colleges.
Learn more about the CSNE’s efforts to foster diversity in its research and educational programs on the CSNE website’s Diversity page.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members, Eberhard Fetz, Polina Anikeeva, Howard Chizeck, and Tim Brown, as well as CSNE industry affiliate, Kernel, were part of the cover story in the New Year’s edition of The Economist, which was focused on brain-computer interfaces (BCIs).
The cover story leads into a lengthy article, titled “Thought Experiments,” which gives a comprehensive overview of the current state of BCI research and aims to separate what will be realistically possible in the near future from much of the hype that surrounds this cutting-edge field.
The piece touches on several research efforts funded by the CSNE, including creating new tools for better understanding the brain and spinal cord, using mathematics to help heal the brain, and integrating ethics into neural engineering research and education.
For more information, read the full article in The Economist.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members, Raj Rao, Jenny Cronin and James Wu, are featured in an article within the January 2018 issue of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine that explains how their research will enable an individual to precisely control movements while opening and closing a prosthetic hand.
“Signal Processing Powers Next-Generation Prosthetics,” explores different investigative techniques currently being used by scientists and engineers to enable artificial limbs to behave more like their natural counterparts. Researchers at London’s Imperial College and England’s Newcastle University are also interviewed.
Rao, Cronin, and Wu’s experiments marked the first time in humans researchers were able to use brain surface stimulation to provide ‘touch’ feedback to direct movement. Their work focuses on decoding finger and grasp movements from electrocorticographic (ECoG) electrodes and sending finger position and tactile information back to the brain. The results of this research could be used for control of a prosthetic hand or arm for a below-elbow amputee or paralyzed individual.
“We are developing a bi-directional brain-computer interface (BBCI) that not only records and interprets electrical signals from the brain but also provides information back to the brain through [electrical] stimulation,” Cronin stated in the IEEE article. She also noted the importance of using the BBCI in tandem with technologically-advanced prosthetic limbs for greatest success. “The hand-arm prosthetic needs to have its own control mechanisms for executing basic finger movements and grasps, as well as tactile sensors and encoders for recording finger joint positions.”
In addition to furthering BBCI development, Rao, Cronin and Wu’s research is contributing to foundational knowledge needed to engineer neuroplasticity in the brain and spinal cord, helping these organs better adapt after a stroke or injury. Engineering neuroplasticity is a new form of rehabilitation that uses engineered devices to restore lost or injured connections in the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the nervous system, and it is fundamental to the CSNE’s mission and vision.
For more information, read the full article, “Signal Processing Powers Next-Generation Prosthetics,” in IEEE Signal Processing Magazine.
The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) was featured in the December 2017 issue of the University of Washington’s (UW’s) alumni magazine, Columns, in a two-page article. In addition to its website, Columns magazine has a print circulation of about 220,000 UW alumni and university affiliates. The article highlighted work by CSNE members at the UW to better treat essential tremor by developing a closed-loop brain-computer interface system.
“The project is paving the way for new cutting-edge neurotechnologies being developed at the center that will improve the quality of life of individuals with stroke, spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions,” said Raj Rao, co-director of the CSNE.
Other CSNE members quoted in the Columns article and involved in the study include Howard Chizeck, Jeff Ojemann, Andrew Ko, Maggie Thompson and Tim Brown. The CSNE’s industry affiliate, Medtronic, provided the deep-brain stimulator used in the research.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) member, Mehrdad Jazayeri, is senior author of a study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that provides new evidence showing how the brain keeps time.
Timing is important for many everyday activities, so better understanding how the brain processes and tracks time helps researchers intent on engineering brain-computer interfaces that can improve the body’s sensorimotor function.
Prior models for how the brain achieves precise control over timing were focused on the idea that there might be a centralized clock, or pacemaker somewhere in the brain that keeps time for the entire brain. However, this new study shows that there is evidence for an alternative timekeeping system that relies on the neurons responsible for producing a specific action. Depending on the time interval required, these neurons compress or stretch out the steps they take to generate the behavior at a specific time.
“What we found is that it’s a very active process. The brain is not passively waiting for a clock to reach a particular point,” said Jazayeri in MIT News.
Next steps for Jazayeri include exploring further how the brain generates the neural patterns seen during varying time intervals and also how our expectations influence our ability to produce different intervals.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members, Eran Klein and Frederic Gilbert, participated in the Think: Digital Futures 2SER podcast, sharing their thoughts about neural security and the impact of brain-computer interfaces on people’s sense of identity and agency.
Klein is a neurologist specializing in dementia at Oregon Health and Sciences University and the Portland VA Medical Center, leader of the CSNE’s Neuroethics thrust, and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the University of Washington (UW) Department of Philosophy. Gilbert is a UW/CSNE Scientist Fellow who explores neuroethical issues posed by novel invasive biomedical technologies.
You can listen to the podcast via the Think: Digital Futures 2SER website or through iTunes.
CSNE member, Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann, was quoted in a recent Forbes article about his work with the Allen Institute for Brain Science to map the human brain. Ojemann, a vice chairman and professor of neurological surgery at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine and a director of the UW’s GRID lab, was one of the physicians who collaborated with the Allen Institute to collect tissue samples from patients undergoing treatment for epilepsy or brain tumors. The new data from these samples includes information about the shapes and electrical properties of 300 living neurons, which is a boost to medical research and physicians who treat people with neurological diseases.
“The impact on humanity could be extremely broad,” said Ojemann in his interview with Forbes. “I very much hope that this helps us treat epilepsy,” he said, “but it could just as well help us with our understanding of aging, or Alzheimer’s or autism.”
To learn more, read the full article in Forbes or the press release in the UW Medicine Newsroom.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) University Education Manager, Lise Johnson, was recently featured in Science Magazine. The article, “Five reasons to leave your science bubble,” encourages researchers to discover the unconventional career paths that science could guide them on, such as choreographing dances to demonstrate research findings, collaborating with playwrights or even launching a new scientific field.
For Johnson, she sees her options as broad, saying “I’m still considering a research career, but working in education, industry, or science communication is also a possibility, so I do these types of projects to get experience,”.
In addition to her education management duties, Johnson is a research scientist at the University of Washington, lecturer and co-author of “Brain Bytes: Quick Answers to Quirky Questions About the Brain” with CSNE Executive Director, Eric Chudler.
Vamsi Talla, a recent Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering postdoc and University of Washington Electrical Engineering (UW EE) alumnus, was honored with the 2016 ACM SIGCOMM Doctoral Dissertation Award for his thesis, Power, Communication and Sensing Solutions for Energy Constrained Platforms.
Talla will add this accomplishment next to others, which includes receiving the 2016 ACM SIGMOBILE Doctoral Dissertation Award and WAGS/UMI Outstanding Innovation in Technology Award.
Working under Josh Smith, University of Washington (UW) professor and co-leader of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering’s (CSNE’s) Communications and Interface research thrust, Talla and his peers discovered how to manipulate low-power sensors and devices to draw energy from televisions and wi-fi radio frequencies, known as Ambient RF signals.
Rather than relying on a battery or circuit board, Talla states in his thesis that this process, known as backscatter communication, “…enables ubiquitous communication where devices can communicate among themselves at unprecedented scales and in locations that were previously inaccessible.”
Recently, the team was able to successfully complete a phone call using ambient backscatter exclusively; a milestone for the future of battery-free devices.
In addition to conducting groundbreaking research, Talla also serves as Chief Technology Officer at Jeeva, a CSNE industry affiliate and wireless company that he co-founded with Smith. One of Jeeva’s primary goals is to allow easier communication between devices, doing so by providing wireless connectivity that uses 10,000 times less power than current wireless systems.
For more information, please visit Allen School News and UW EE Spotlights.
A notable research advance in Brain Computer Interface (BCI) development and a University of Washington (UW) PhD student dissertation award are helping to shape 2017 into a year of accomplishments for the University of Washington Electrical Engineering Department (UW EE) and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE).
Visvesh Sathe, a UW EE assistant professor and CSNE member, and his research team, which includes the CSNE’s Chris Ruddell and Steve Perlmutter, have discovered a way to improve BCI recording system performance by a factor of 10. The team’s work addresses challenges, such as the need for a large number of neural recording and stimulation electrodes, containing those electrodes within a relatively small space, and reducing signal noise.
In their recent paper, “A Scalable, Highly-Multiplexed Delta-Encoded Digital Feedback ECoG Recording Amplifier with Common and Differential-Mode Artifact Suppression,” Sathe and his team introduce newly developed architectural techniques responsible for the increased channel recording density compared to current state-of-the-art systems.
This advancement, along with the new system’s ability to suppress signal noise and use high precision recording to read brain signals are steps toward an ambitious goal, creating a bi-directional BCI (known as a BBCI) on a single chip, where signals flow both to and from the neural device.
While Sathe’s and his research team’s work is far from over, one of Rudell’s students is celebrating. Tong Zhang, a 2017 UW EE PhD student, was recently recognized by the UW who awarded him the 2017 Graduate School Distinguished Dissertation Award in Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering for his UW EE doctoral thesis. This achievement marks the first time a UW EE PhD student has received this top dissertation award.
Visit the UW EE website for more information about this research advance and Tong Zhang.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) research leader, Eberhard Fetz, has co-authored a report published today in the journal Science, which takes a close look at the ethical concerns and implications surrounding devices controlled via brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). The report describes several likely scenarios resulting from the use of these devices and suggests some possible ways to address the issues, including designing a form of “veto” control for the BMI user, engineering greater neurosecurity into BMIs, and improving health and neuro-literacy in the public sphere.
The publication has also gained notice in media outlets such as GeekWire and MedicalXPress.
Similar discussions, investigations and research into the ethical impacts and implications of brain-computer interfaces is conducted on an ongoing basis by the CSNE’s Neuroethics research thrust, which studies ethical issues arising from emerging neural engineering technologies. Issues include questions of privacy, security, moral and legal responsibility, changes in our understanding of individual agency, shifts in personal identity and social justice.
On June 16, 2017, through support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members Katherine Pratt and Tim Brown, participated in "Future Con," a three-day event that brought cutting-edge science to a wide audience as part of Awesome Con, a popular science fiction convention in Washington D.C. with over 60,000 attendees.
Pratt, a CSNE member and Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington (UW), and Brown, a CSNE member, neuroethicist and Ph.D. student in Philosophy at the UW, were part of a Future Con panel titled, "The Human-Technology Frontier: To Enhancement and Beyond?" Among several topics, they discussed with the panel and audience the possibility that neurotechnology could change how we think about humanity itself and alter our current understanding of what we consider to be disabilities and human neural enhancement.
"The panel had some great questions and allowed both Tim and I to talk about multidisciplinary work and neuroethics research through the Center [the CSNE]," Pratt said.
Pratt also participated in a StarTalk Live! Broadcast, "Engineering the Future: What Humanity Can, Should, and Will need to Do." Pratt was one of two NSF scientists on the show, speaking about the future of science and technology as it relates to the future of space travel.
Both Pratt and Brown were available during the event to answer questions from the public at the NSF's "Ask A Scientist" exhibitor booth.
"I spoke with two women with fibromyalgia who were interested in the neuroscience of sensation, a program coordinator at MENSA who wanted to think more about what it means to be 'normal functioning,' and an undergraduate interested in the CSNE's [Research Experience for Undergraduates] REU program," Brown said. "It was an awesome experience."
Visit the NSF website to learn more about the NSF's participation in this year's Awesome Con / Future Con. The event was also covered by media outlets such as Smithsonian Magazine and Live Science.
Photo credit: Katherine Pratt
Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), Raj Rao, was recently named the Cherng Jia and Elizabeth Yun Hwang Endowed Professor in the University of Washington’s (UW’s) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The professorship is built on the Hwangs’ shared vision of making life better for those with paralysis, and it supports the critical advancement of rehabilitation technologies for spinal cord injury and stroke.
“I am truly honored to be named the inaugural CJ and Elizabeth Hwang professor of CSE and EE,” Rao said. “I regard the professorship as a recognition of the great collaborative effort of the students, faculty and staff at our center [CNT] over the past six years that has made UW a premier destination for neural engineering in the world. We are extremely grateful to the Hwang family for their generosity in accelerating the Center’s efforts to build devices that will improve the quality of life of people with spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions.”
This remarkable gift comes in the midst of the UW’s most ambitious philanthropic campaign in its history, “Be Boundless—for Washington, For the World.” The campaign encompasses the CNT and the UW College of Engineering and seeks to raise $5 billion by 2020.
“The selection of Professor Rao is ideal,” Mr. Hwang said. “His work lays the groundwork for research on developing a device-based rehabilitation technology to improve the quality of life of people with spinal cord injury and brain damage. He is well qualified for the Hwang Professorship. Chair Poovendran [UWEE Chair] certainly made a brilliant choice. We are very pleased to have him installed as the first endowed professor.”
For more information about the history behind this endowed professorship, read the full article at the UW Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering’s (CSNE’s) Executive and Education Director, Eric Chudler, won an Emmy on June 3 at the 2017 Northwest Regional Emmy Awards for an episode he executive produced for the UWTV series, BrainWorks. The Emmy-winning episode, “Exercise and the Brain,” discussed the benefits of exercise on the brain and learning. BrainWorks is an educational series that takes viewers on a journey inside the human brain, with the goal of educating children about the wonders of neuroscience.
“The BrainWorks series encourages people to learn about their brain and neurological disorders,” Chudler said. “The programs have an educational mission similar to that of the CSNE, to motivate young people to pursue careers in neuroscience.”
BrainWorks on UWTV is made possible through the generous support of The Dana Foundation, The Dean Witter Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) and its industry affiliate, ARM, have recently signed an agreement whereby the CSNE will work with ARM to develop a unique, brain-implantable, system-on-a-chip (SoC) for bi-directional brain-computer interfaces (BBCIs) aimed at solving neurodegenerative disorders. The collaboration is generating interest in the media, including articles in BBC News, Fox News and Business Weekly.
Read more about this recent partnership agreement on ARM’s website blog.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members at the University of Washington (UW) BioRobotics Lab are working on making improvements to privacy and security properties of brain-computer interface (BCI)-enabled technologies. Their research has attracted the attention of media outlets such as Motherboard (VICE), Ars Technica, MIT Technology Review, and most recently, CBC Radio.
“An important thing is that we would like to get out ahead of these problems [neural privacy and security issues] before they happen. With e-mail spam, we didn’t get out ahead of it before it happened. We started this work about four years ago, and our hope was to try and capture the issue, bring it to awareness, and begin to look for solutions before these things happen,” said Howard Chizeck, CSNE member and professor of electrical engineering at the UW, in the CBC Radio interview.
Learn more about CSNE-funded work in neural security at the UW BioRobotics Lab website.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members, Eric Chudler and Lise Johnson, have begun a new blog series for Psychology Today. Their blog is titled, “Brain Bytes: Neuroscience in small bits,” and it will feature Chudler’s and Johnson’s take on neuroscience, neural engineering and brain-computer interfaces as related to current events. Posts are published periodically, with the first piece written by Johnson, posted April 23, 2017 and titled, “Brain-Computer Interfaces and the Future of Humanity: You should probably at least think about it.”
“This blog is a way to reach a new audience with information about the many mysteries of the brain and clear up misconceptions that people may have regarding neuroscience,” Chudler said.
Learn more about Chudler, Johnson, their blog, and their involvement in the CSNE and the University of Washington at their bio page in Psychology Today.
A new article in The Conversation by Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering Director, Raj Rao, and University of Washington Bioengineering doctoral student, James Wu, describes the state-of-the-art of neural engineering. Topics covered include the origins of brain-computer interface (BCI) research, different types of BCIs, and what’s realistically possible for assistive and augmentative BCIs. The article has been picked-up and republished multiple times, in outlets such as CNN, Scientific American, Smithsonian.com, LiveScience, Raw Story and Futurism.
Implantable fibers are already being used by scientists to stimulate specific targets in the brain and to monitor electrical responses by neurons; however, similar studies in the nerves of the spinal cord, which might ultimately lead to treatments to alleviate spinal cord injuries, have been more difficult to carry out. This is because the spine flexes and stretches as the body moves, and the relatively stiff, brittle fibers used today could damage the delicate spinal cord tissue.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Washington (UW) are part of a multi-institution team that has developed a new, flexible, rubber-like fiber, which can be used to study spinal cord neurons and potentially restore bodily function.
In a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances, the research team describes the implant they have developed. This rubber-like fiber can flex and stretch while simultaneously delivering both optical (light) impulses, for optoelectronic stimulation, and electrical connections, for stimulation and monitoring of neurons.
“I wanted to create a multimodal interface with mechanical properties compatible with tissues for neural stimulation and recording,” says CSNE student member at MIT, Chi (Alice) Lu. “The spinal cord is not only bending but also stretching during movement.”
According to Polina Anikeeva, CSNE deputy faculty director and professor at MIT, the spinal cord undergoes stretches of approximately 12 percent during normal, everyday movement, so flexibility is a must. These new fibers are not only stretchable but also very flexible.
“They’re so floppy, you could use them to do sutures, and do light delivery at the same time,” Anikeeva said. “There are many different types of cells in the spinal cord, and we don’t know how the different types respond to recovery, or lack of recovery, after an injury.” These new fibers, the researchers hope, could help to fill in some of those blanks.
For more information about this study, read the full article at MIT News.
On Thursday, March 16, Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) Executive and Education Director, Eric Chudler, and CSNE University Education Manager, Lise Johnson, appeared on KING 5 Television’s daily talk show, “New Day Northwest.” Chudler and Johnson were discussing their new book, “Brain Bytes: Quick Answers to Quirky Questions about the Brain.”
Chudler’s and Johnson’s book contains answers to more than 100 common questions about the brain, such as: Does brain size matter? Why do we dream? What can I do to keep my brain healthy?
Answers in the book are derived from the latest information about neuroscience and neural engineering. A section of the book is dedicated to discussions about brain-computer interfaces and brain stimulation as well.
Watch the complete interview on KING 5 Television’s website.
The CSNE research team at San Diego State University, led by Sam Kassegne, has been developing a special kind of electrode to be used in brain-computer interfaces, and their work has been getting noticed in the media.
This “glassy carbon” electrode both electrically stimulates (sends information) and records (receives information) from neurons in the brain, providing an efficient and biocompatible connection between the body and an implanted device.
In addition to a journal publication released in Nature Science Reports, Kassegne’s research has been covered on the CW6 (San Diego TV), Science Daily, Phys.org, My Social Good News, Next Big Future, San Diego East County Magazine, Village News, as well as articles in the SDSU NewsCenter and here on the CSNE website.
“With the technology now demonstrated to have key advantages over existing commercial and research-grade thin-film technologies (coupled electrical and electrochemical detection, higher signal to noise ratio, very low corrosion rate), the next logical step is human trials,” Kassegne said. “We are currently working closely together with our collaborators to go to the next level.”
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) research leader, Dr. Polina Anikeeva, is part of a collaborative team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who have, for the first time ever, developed flexible fibers that can deliver a combination of optical, electrical and chemical signals back and forth into the brain. The team's research results are reported in a paper published this month in the journal, Nature Neuroscience.
The fibers are designed to mimic the softness and flexibility of brain tissue, which could make it possible to leave implants in place over a longer period of time. With some adjustments to further improve biocompatibility, this new approach to implantable brain-computer interfaces could provide a dramatically improved way to learn about the functions and interconnections of different brain regions. Read the full article in MIT News.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) and University of Washington (UW) graduate students, Tim Brown and Maggie Thompson, have been featured on The Neuroethics Blog, the official blog of the American Journal of Bioethics, Neuroscience (AJOB Neuroscience).
Brown and Thompson are working together in the UW BioRobotics Lab on projects related to deep brain stimulators and brain-computer interfaces. Brown is a doctoral student in Philosophy and research assistant at the UW, and Thompson is a doctoral student in the UW BioRobotics Lab in Electrical Engineering at the UW. Thompson is also president of the CSNE Student Leadership Council.
“When Neuroethicists Become Labmates” features a discussion between Brown and Thompson, covering how they have collaborated successfully to enhance and strengthen each other’s work in their respective fields of study. Thompson studies electrical engineering, and Brown studies philosophy, in particular, neuroethics. Read the full article on the AJOB Neuroscience blog.
The third annual Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) Hackathon was recently covered by Q13 Fox News. Hackathon organizer and University of Washington (UW) Bioengineering PhD student, Nile Wilson, is featured in the video report. Watch the Q13 Fox News video.
The CSNE Hackathon is a university student-run competition that gives participants an opportunity to engineer innovative neural technology with potential for real-world clinical and commercial applications. Participating students came from the UW, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, San Diego State University and other CSNE-affiliated partner institutions and programs across the country.
Pictured below is this year’s winning Hackathon project team, DropStop (with their 3-D printed brain trophies). DropStop created an interactive rehabilitation system for patients with foot drop, a common side effect of stroke, spinal cord injury and certain hip surgeries. The device the team designed collects electromyogram (EMG) signals from leg and foot muscles and translates them into biofeedback in the form of light emitting diode (LED) output. This line of blinking lights on a circuit board serves as guidance the patient can use while exerting effort in their physical therapy. While engaged in leg and foot exercises, the user can observe through the LED output that muscles in their dropped foot are indeed activating, even if they can’t visibly see those muscles move.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) graduate students and University of Washington PhD candidates, James Wu and Kaitlyn Casimo sat down to discuss what is fiction and what is reality when it comes to brain-computer interface research on KIRO Radio News 97.3 FM's Jason and Burns Show. Topics covered included the challenges inherent in brain-computer research, what’s realistically possible in the near future, and ethical concerns and considerations. A write-up, summarizing portions of the interview, is also available at MyNorthwest.com.
A recent study by a team of University of Washington (UW) researchers, including the CSNE’s Director, Dr. Rajesh Rao, has been in the news lately for its unique findings. The team’s research uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the human visual cortex to convey binary information about obstacles in a virtual maze. The information is communicated non-invasively and directly to the brain through TMS without other visual or auditory cues. Research subjects navigate the maze through brain stimulation alone, effectively achieving a sort of ‘sixth sense’ for the brain.
This work was first reported in UW Today, and the article is based on a paper the team published Nov. 16 in Frontiers in Robotics and AI. A video and article featuring Dr. Rao was also published by Reuters/GMA News Online in January, and another piece published this week in CNET.
The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering’s (CSNE’s) industry affiliate, Advanced Brain Monitoring (ABM), has been recognized as the “Most Innovative Medical Device Company” by Global Health & Pharma (GHP) for GHP’s 2016 Healthcare and Pharmaceutical awards.
ABM is an industry leader in discovering neuroscience applications that measure and interpret brain function and detect abnormal neuro-cardio respiratory response during sleep. The company also develops innovative devices that improve sleep quality and enhance performance.
“This award recognizes our company’s successes in developing technologies which enable clinicians and clinical trial sponsors to profile brain health through the analysis of the brain’s electrical activity (EEG) during sleep and wake,” stated Chris Berka, ABM’s Chief Executive Officer.
ABM’s company platform includes streamlined EEG acquisition, secure transmission over a cloud portal and rapid analyses and reporting.
The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering’s (CSNE’s) Computational Neuroscience research thrust co-leader, Emily Fox, has been selected to receive a 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.
Fox is among 102 scientists and engineers (only 19 via the National Science Foundation) who are being recognized by the White House for advancing the frontiers of science and technology and serving the community through scientific leadership, public education and community outreach.
Read the complete article in the University of Washington’s Computer Science & Engineering News.
CSNE members at the University of Washington, Jeneva Cronin, Dr. Jared Olson, and Dr. Jeff Ojemann, are part of the research team featured in this Pacific Standard article. The piece explains their recent study, which shows that a sense of ownership of an artificial limb can be induced by electrical brain stimulation.
The CSNE has been in the news recently with a study led by CSNE member and UW bioengineering doctoral student, Jeneva Cronin. Cronin’s study, “Task-Specific Somatosensory Feedback via Cortical Stimulation in Humans,” has been featured in media outlets such as UW Today, the UW Daily, GeekWire, New Atlas, NSF NewsScience 360, KOMO NewsRadio, futurism.com, Pune Mirror/India Times, and NSF Science Now.
The study is notable because this is the first time in humans researchers have been able to use brain surface stimulation to provide ‘touch’ feedback to direct movement, which is a potential method for providing sensory feedback in future prosthetic and rehabilitative applications.
On October 13th, Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) student and 2016 Young Scholars Program (YSP) participant, Surabhi Mundada, attended the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mundada’s attendance at the event was sponsored by the Society for Science and the Public, based on science projects she did for events such as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
“It was extremely exciting and super inspiring to hear about all the innovative ideas in so many fields of science,” said Mundada. “Hearing President Obama speak was also incredible!”
The White House Frontiers Conference was co-hosted by President Obama, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, in order to explore the future of innovation here and around the world. The conference focused on building U.S. capacity in science, technology, and innovation, as well as the new technologies, challenges and goals that will continue to shape the 21st century and beyond.
The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) is being highlighted as part of the University of Washington’s (UW’s) philanthropic campaign, Together, which launches Friday, October 21st. The Center is featured for its collaborative work with the UW College of Engineering in both a video at the UW’s campaign launch event and in an article on the university's campaign website.
Both the article and the video tell the story of Jayna Bean Doll, a young girl who was diagnosed with hemimegalencephaly, a rare condition in which one half of the brain develops abnormally larger than the other. The condition causes seizures, and in Jayna's case, required that half her brain be removed. CSNE member, Dr. Jeff Ojemann, performed the surgery, which stopped the seizures but left Jayna with weakness and impaired motor control on the left side of her body. CSNE member and UW professor, Dr. Kat Steele, and UW Mechanical Engineering students in her lab created an orthosis to help Jayna regain movement and motor control of her left arm. The video and article profiles the process of creating this orthosis, as well as some of the research advances the CSNE is making in neural engineering, which promise to help the body heal, feel and move again. Read the full story and watch the video here.
Together, is the most expansive philanthropic campaign in the UW’s history, and it is aimed at transforming the lives of students and all the people the university serves. For more information, visit the UW’s campaign website, which will be updated frequently as the campaign progresses.
Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) student, Kaitlyn McGlothlen, has won both the International Neuroethics Society essay contest and the Voices in Bioethics essay contest with a paper she wrote for Dr. Laura Specker-Sullivan’s 2016 Spring Quarter class at the CSNE, Ethical Issues in Neural Engineering. McGlothlen’s paper is titled, “Oops, There Goes my Childhood: Identity and Clinical Ethical Issues in the Selective Erasing of Memories.”
For more information, please contact CSNE Neuroethics Fellow, Dr. Laura Specker-Sullivan.
Dr. Bing Brunton, assistant professor of biology at the University of Washington (UW) and Dr. Raj Rao, Director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and professor in the UW Computer Science & Engineering department, have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how the brain functions without being given structured tasks or direction. Their study is aimed at understanding neural processing outside of traditionally structured and controlled experiments in a laboratory setting.
In Brunton’s and Rao’s study, subjects receive no explicit instructions, but instead, simply behave as they wish in their hospital-room, including eating, sleeping and conversing with family. By observing non-structured behavior, the study aims to build a better understanding of the brain in action, in a real-world scenario. Learn more about this grant and study on the NSF website.
The Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering student startup, Multimodal Health, is moving their headquarters this week to the new UW CoMotion building. Learn more about this unique, virtual rehabilitation company in this article, recently featured on the University of Washington homepage.
This short article and video explains how the CSNE began exploring the ethical implications of neuroscience and neural engineering early-on, becoming a leader in the relatively new field of neuroethics. CSNE faculty member, Dr. Tom Daniel, and the CSNE’s neuroethics research leader, Dr. Sara Goering, are interviewed. Read the article and watch the video in the August issue of Perspectives, the University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences’ newsletter.
CSNE research leader and University of Washington (UW) professor, Dr. Josh Smith is principal investigator of the UW Sensor Systems Lab, which has developed a way for embedded devices to harvest Bluetooth radio signals and use them to broadcast Wi-Fi transmissions. With further optimization, the team could use this technique to make a new generation of apps that process data from devices implanted in the body. Read the full article in the MIT Technology Review.
A Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE)-funded research study exploring ethical implications of brain-computer interfaces used in conjunction with closed-loop brain stimulation has been published in Taylor & Francis’ Brain-Computer Interfaces journal.
“Brain-computer interface-based control of closed-loop brain stimulation: attitudes and ethical considerations” was co-authored by Eran Klein, Sara Goering, Josh Gagne, Conor V. Shea, Rachel Franklin, Samuel Zorowitz, Darin D. Dougherty and Alik S. Widge. The article describes in detail this qualitative study of 15 test subjects implanted with Deep-Brain Stimulation (DBS) for depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
Individuals at MGH were interviewed for their perspectives about closed-loop or next-generation DBS devices, given their experience with open-loop DBS. The study uncovered four major themes characterizing test subjects’ attitudes toward next-generation DBS: control over device function, authentic self, relationship effects and meaningful consent. The article presents subject feedback within the framework of these themes and asserts that these attitudes about closed-loop DBS can help inform future development of psychiatric DBS research.
Besides the article, another direct outgrowth of this research work was a very successful symposium on closed-loop DBS, facilitated by Eran Klein (pictured) at the recent North American Neuromodulation Society Neural Interfaces Conference.
For more information about this article and related research work, please contact CSNE members, Eran Klein or Sara Goering.
An international team led by researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) based at the University of Washington (UW) is one of three finalists in a race to produce an implantable wireless device that can assess, stimulate and block the activity of nerves that control organs.
For the GlaxoSmithKline Bioelectronics Innovation Challenge, the team is working on an implantable device that could help restore bladder function for people with spinal cord injuries or millions of others who suffer from incontinence.
“For people with spinal cord injuries, restoring sexual function and bladder function are some of their top priorities — higher than regaining the ability to walk,” said Chet Moritz, deputy director of the CSNE and UW associate professor of rehabilitation medicine and of physiology and biophysics.
“The vision is for these neural devices to be as ubiquitous as pacemakers or deep brain stimulators, where a surgeon implants the device and it’s seamless for the patient,” he said. “We’re really excited to make a difference in people’s lives and to help push these technologies forward.”
The CSNE team — one of 11 initially selected by GlaxoSmithKline to compete in the challenge — joined forces with another team of experts from the University of Cambridge and University College London for the second round of the competition. The company will award up to $1 million in additional research funding to each team.
Learn more about this exciting project and award at UW Today.
Several CSNE investigators will be presenting talks and posters at NeuroFutures 2016, including Rajesh Rao, Chet Moritz, Jeff Ojemann and many other CSNE faculty and students.
Neurofutures 2016 features top thought leaders in research, engineering, industry and clinical domains. The event will be held June 19--21 at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and it is co-hosted by participating partners, Oregon Health & Science University, University of Washington and University of British Columbia. This annual conference is designed to explore new innovations at the interface of neuroscience and neurotechnology.
This year’s conference theme is “Circuit Structure and Dynamics," with topics including:
Keynote Speakers include:
For more information, please contact Scott Ransom or visit the NeuroFutures website.
Larry Bencivengo, an educator who participated in the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) 2015 Summer Research Experience for Teachers (RET), was recently featured in this video by the Mercer Island School District. Mr. Bencivengo developed an artificial neural network curriculum, with guidance from the CSNE, for his AP Biology class. The curriculum unit was co-authored by Mr. Bencivengo and Benjamin Hart, a biology teacher at Redmond High School. Mr. Bencivengo has also recently been awarded a grant in the Partners in Science program of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. During the next two summers, Mr. Bencivengo will be conducting basic research in science labs at the University of Washington. Kristen Bergsman, the CSNE Pre-College Education Manager, is also featured in the video. Ms. Bergsman gives an overview of the CSNE and how Mr. Bencivengo participated in the RET program.
Every year, the CSNE at the University of Washington sponsors this seven-week summer research program for middle school and high school teachers on the university's Seattle campus. Teachers selected for the program participate in ongoing research projects with researchers and have the opportunity to develop new lesson plans based on their research experiences. Learn more at the CSNE Research Experience for Teachers webpage.
CSNE members Emo Todorov and Vikash Kumar are part of a University of Washington team of computer scientists and engineers who have built a robotic hand that can not only perform dexterous manipulation but also learn from its own experience. Read the full article in UW Today.
Congratulations to the CSNE member and University of Washington (UW) graduate student, Katherine Pratt, recently named as one of the Husky 100! The Husky 100 recognizes 100 outstanding UW undergraduate and graduate students. Visit the Husky 100 website to learn more about this award.
The CSNE is proud to welcome White Matter LLC as our latest Industry Affiliate. Located in Seattle, Washington, White Matter LLC manufactures sophisticated data acquisition devices for neuroscience and brain research. Their flagship product, the nanoZ, is used in hundreds of laboratories worldwide to rapidly test and condition multi-channel electrode arrays. In 2015, White Matter LLC released the eCube, providing researchers with the ability to acquire, process and analyze up to 6,400 channels of neural data with the world’s smallest and lightest digital headstages. These technologies will allow the CSNE researchers to perform truly large-scale electrophysiology in test subjects using ECoG or implantable electrode arrays. The CSNE is excited to have White Matter LLC as an industry partner and we are looking forward to developing this research partnership.
To learn about other industry partnerships the CSNE is involved in, visit our Current Members page.
On Monday, April 11 over 60 people, including the CSNE Industry Affiliates, researchers and graduate students gathered to review progress of some of the latest work the Center has been involved with in the past year, as well as talk about technological advances in both industry product development and academic research. Activities included a research overview, a student poster session, and discussions about technology transfer. Industry Affiliates like Conor Russomanno, CEO of OpenBCI (pictured demonstrating an open-source data acquisition board and headset at Industry Day) are collaborating with the CSNE on exciting projects, such as equipping and supporting research in brain-computer interfaces. Read more about the CSNE's partnership with its Industry Affiliates at our Current Member page.
CSNE engineers like Jeffrey Herron, pictured below, are working on innovations in healthcare, trying to help patients control their implanted medical devices just by thinking about them.
Getting up from a chair once posed a challenge for Steven Gilbert, affiliate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the UW. Now, thanks to the work of CSNE member, Dr. Andrew Ko, he walks more than five miles a day after receiving brain stimuli.
Students from the University of Washington, San Diego State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Spelman College assembled at the CSNE on Friday, November 6, 2015, for the 2015 CSNE Hackathon. Five teams of three students were tasked to develop a novel technology to addressing sensorimotor neural engineering problems. The catch? Teams had only 36 hours to complete their projects.
On Monday, November 9, teams made their final presentations to a group of faculty and industry judges. The five teams were: "Rocket Brain" | "Face the Music" | "ReVision" | EmoVibe | "Sunshine Arm." After a long deliberation, the judges selected the "Face the Music" team as the winner.
MIT’s Polina Anikeeva was among those named to the prestigious list this week. She’s described as a “creative scientist” who sees “new ways to record and stimulate brain activity.” Dr. Anikeeva is a co-leader of brain-controlled spinal reanimation research at the CSNE.
New research is now leading to changes at the University of Washington CoMotion MakerSpace. UW’s Kat Steele, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, has had help from students with disabilities to set out some new guidelines to cater to those with disabilities. Steele is an investigator with AccessEngineering, which is funded by NSF and is being led by the DO-IT program. DO-IT partners with the CSNE.
A look at Seattle-area research in neuroscience and all things related to the brain. Dr. Eric Chudler talks about engaging young minds through his Neuroscience for Kids website. Professor Chudler is the executive director of the CSNE.
Scientists say they can now download signals from your brain and translate them back into a picture that you saw. UW's Andrea Stocco, professor of psychology, is quoted, and Rajesh Rao, professor of computer science and engineering, is referenced.
MIT's Polina Anikeeva is working to turn fiction into fact, not to help with virtual reality technology, but to help amputees restore full functionality to prosthetic limbs - not just to control the muscles, but to be able to feel and touch again.
"Any type of portrayal of the brain in cartoons can get kids interested in how the brain works and what makes it tick," said CSNE Executive Director Eric Chudler. He weighed in on the latest Pixar movie, which provides a kid-friendly introduction to neuroscience.
Essential tremor is a neurological disorder that causes rhythmic shaking, and currently, deep brain stimulation is a FDA-approved method for treating people with essential tremor. UW researchers are working with Medtronic's Activa PC+S Deep Brain Stimulation system for an alternate treatment. CSNE researchers Howard Chizeck, Jeffrey Herron and Andrew Ko are interviewed.
With a title punning on the Art Nouveau movement, the exhibit presented neuroscience as art and invites viewers to explore the connections between beauty and neuroscience. The theme of neuroscience in nature can be seen in “Sidewalk Neurons” by Eric Chudler, PhD, in which he collaged images of sidewalk cracks to show viewers that neuroscience can be found everywhere, even in unexpected places.
As Russ Tedrake flings up the garage door to the dusty MIT lab, light whooshes in, revealing a 360-pound humanoid robot known as Atlas hanging from a rope. As one of the Darpa Robotics Challenge’s 25 robot finalists, Atlas will be representing Tedrake’s team at the 2015 challenge in two weeks. Tedrake is a co-leader of the Control and Adaptation Thrust.
Startups created by UW professors Howard Chizeck and Joshua Smith are featured in this article, which looks at scientists and engineers creating “smart” concrete, a system that allows robots to function in zero visibility underwater (Chizeck’s BluHaptics) and wireless backscatter technology (Smith).
A cochlear implant is designed to do one thing really well — allow users to understand speech. It should be possible to make cochlear implants more music-friendly, says Les Atlas, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington.
You may have learned about the five senses in school but Dr. Eric Chudler sheds light on some of the many other lesser known senses.
Reporter Nancy Szokan describes a recent Smithsonian Magazine article on brain-to-brain communication research, with a focus on UW Professor Rajesh Rao's work.
Exploring uncharted territory, neuroscientists are making strides with human subjects who can "talk" directly by using their minds. Professor Rajesh Rao and Research Assistant Professor Andrea Stocco of the University of Washington are featured in the story
At one MIT lab, materials scientist Polina Anikeeva has hit on a way to manufacture what amounts to a brain-science Swiss Army knife. The neural probes she builds carry light while collecting and transmitting electricity, and they also have tiny channels through which to pump drugs.
Researchers from the University of Washington departments of Electrical Engineering, Neurological Surgery and Philosophy have teamed up with medical device manufacturer Medtronic to use the Activa® PC+S Deep Brain Stimulation system with people who have essential tremor.
Community members had the chance to engage their minds while learning more about how the organ works during a Brain Symposium at Mill Creek Middle School on March 19. Shannon Jephson-Hernandez, science teacher and CSNE RET alum, was one of the driving forces behind the symposium's creation.
The project will expand the College of Engineering by providing teaching, research and collaboration space that will allow SDSU to support interdisciplinary research. SDSU collaborates with the University of Washington and MIT in the National Science Foundation's Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.
Many people have difficulty quickly identifying left and right. It is a complex process which involves several higher brain functions. A test to determine left-right discrimination, created by Dr. Eric Chudler, is included in this article.
Engineers at MIT, led by Polina Anikeeva, have developed a method to stimulate brain tissue using external magnetic fields and injected magnetic nanoparticles that resemble small bits of rust. This technique allows for direct stimulation of neurons, which could someday be an effective treatment for a variety of neurological diseases, and even further in the future, for severe, treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders like depression, without the need for highly invasive brain implants or external connections.
The inspiration to use magnets to control brain activity in mice first struck MIT materials scientist Polina Anikeeva while working in the lab of neuroscientist-engineer Karl Deisseroth at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Plans to make transcranial direction current stimulation (tDCS) machines are available online and components can be bought at hobbyist stores. But that does not mean that using them is without risk, says Peter Reiner, co-founder of the National Core for Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia.
About 650 elementary students attended a Brain Awareness Week open house Tuesday at the University of Washington. The event helped students learn about the brain through hands-on stations and a lecture by Eric Chudler, Ph.D., a research associate professor in the UW Department of Bioengineering and executive director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.
Matthew D’Asaro, a doctoral student in the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, dismantled his first electronic gadget as a toddler. He and his roommate have turned their dorm room into an engineering workshop.
vHAB won the Tech Sandbox competition last year at the UW’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. A lot has happened since then, including a $40,000 commercialization grant for vHAB from the UW’s CoMotion program (formerly the Center for Commercialization).
It has been the holy grail of science fiction - an interface that allows us to plug our brain into a computer. Now, researchers at MIT have revealed new fibers less than a width of a hair that could make it a reality.
Stiff, steel microwires can damage tissue when implanted deep into patients' brains. Engineers at MIT have found a way around this problem with a flexible brain-implant technology.
Conventional neural probes are designed to record a single type of signaling, limiting the information that can be derived from the brain at any point in time. Now researchers at MIT may have found a way to change that.
vHAB is designed and engineered while keeping in mind the needs of neurologically injured people. This virtual rehabilitation system helps to stroke patients through rehabilitation in a tailored manner.
Fifteen students from three institutions competed in a hackathon sponsored by the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.
A line trailed down the Ave as students and community members waited to enter the Varsity Theatre for a screening of “Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement” Thursday night. The film, presented by the UW’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, is about technologies with the potential to make us “better than human,” such as prosthetic feet tailored for mountain climbing
Elle O'Brien, graduate student at the University of Washington, won the local National Science Foundation Pitch Perfect competition and will move on to the national competition in October.
Students from several summer research programs, including participants from the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, discussed their work with visitors in Mary Gates Hall. Students from the UW, MIT, SDSU and other universities took part in CSNE summer programs.
"Brain Trust," a play written by Seattle playwright Rachel Atkins in collaboration with UW Professor Eberhard Fetz explores the question of what it means to change a person’s brain through a neural implant, using something called deep brain stimulation.
Researchers at the UW recently analyzed the functionality of non-invasive BCIs and raised questions about BCI security. While many neural engineering applications of BCIs are still under development, the privacy and safety of consumer brain-signal data may be at risk without further security measures.
The 10-percent brain myth started with a misquoting of Albert Einstein or misinterpretations of the work of brain researchers and psychologists, according to a website from University of Washington neuroscientist Eric Chudler.
CSNE's Howard Chizeck and Tamara Bonaci discuss their research into the privacy implications of brain-computer interfaces. The interview is also available on KIRO Radio.
Tech Sandbox allows students to create projects that demonstrate the core principles of neural engineering. The projects also work as educational demos.
Professor Sara Goering investigates ethical issues that are likely to develop from the use of neural technologies. Her team is currently comparing existing interventions for human bodies and brains to new technologies being developed.
The University of Washington is receiving a $31.2 million gift from Washington Research Foundation to boost entrepreneurship and support research that tackles some of society’s most crucial challenges.
$7.19 million of the gift will be used to establish an Institute for Neuroengineering, which will foster collaborative research across many disciplines to address current challenges in neural disorders and functions, and provide new technologies for people affected by neural disorders. The funding will also support nine postdoctoral researchers, nine graduate students, nine undergraduate students and nine high school student interns. In addition, it will support building renovations in the Department of Biology to house new research. Research will take place jointly with the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the UW.
University of Washington students competed in April to create projects that demonstrate the core principles of neural engineering. This course, the Tech Sandbox Competition, will be replicated at MIT, San Diego State University and Morehouse College.
Graduate student Tyler Libey demonstrates vHAB, a product that he developed with a team of student researchers. Vhab is designed to help stroke victims recover and improve control over their movements through virtual reality games.
Over the last few years, researchers have made significant strides in decoding our thoughts based on brain activity. UW research from Professor Rajesh Rao and team is mentioned.
Team vHAB — including two graduate students in bioengineering, an undergraduate in bioengineering, and an undergraduate in neurobiology and behavior — created six games for stroke therapy patients. vHAB uses muscle activity sensors to measure and speed up patient motor recovery, and delivers the data into electronic medical records so doctors can measure stages of both clinical and at-home recovery.
The TechSandbox competition, coordinated by the University of Washington’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering in Seattle, was so successful in its inaugural year that the competition now takes place within the framework of a two-credit-hour course offered through the department of bioengineering.
Artificial intelligence shows signs of becoming the next big trend for tech start-ups in Silicon Valley. The University of Washington's online course "Computational Neuroscience," taught by Professors Rajesh Rao and Adrienne Fairhall, is mentioned in this article from The Washington Post.
The Washington Research Foundation, a private nonprofit group that funds research and initiatives to commercialize innovations in the state, is making a large, long-term grant to University of Washington efforts in data science, clean energy, protein design, and neuroengineering. UW Professors Tom Daniel and Adrienne Fairhall will serve as co-directors of the Institute of Neuroengineering.
Four University of Washington students who developed a virtual reality game that provides real-time feedback for patients undergoing stroke therapy came away victorious at a neural engineering competition March 13.
MIT’s graduate program in engineering has been ranked No. 1 in the country in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings — a spot the Institute has held since 1990, when the magazine first ranked graduate programs in engineering. UW ranked #26. MIT also ranked #1 in Computer Engineering; UW ranked #15 on that list.
Each March, scientists around the world host open houses to get people thinking about the brain. At the University of Washington, that means the mother of all science fairs in a room decked out with human brains, spinal cords, finch chirping and flying fruit flies.
The most popular hands-on exhibit at the University of Washington’s annual event for kids celebrating the human brain was, well, laying hands on a real human brain.
It would be impossible to measure the cost of noisy distractions, but companies with open offices surely pay it. Adrian K.C. Lee, assistant professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of Washington, is quoted.
A look at some of the best research institutions in the U.S., ranked by level of funding from the National Institutes of Health, the largest funder of biomedical research in the world. The University of Washington is number three.
While the 1987 version of “RoboCop” spoke to the blurring line between man and machine and the moral responsibilities of science, the 2014 version more readily addresses those meaty cyberpunk themes, thanks in part to the science and technology being conducted today. Research by University of Washington scientists Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco is discussed.
The giant Consumer Electronics Show is known for glitzy, multi-story booths, showing off the next big products from some of the world’s largest technology companies. But GeekWire’s adventures included a visit to a much more modest booth — staffed by researchers from the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering whose work could have much more profound implications for humanity, albeit much further in the future than the next holiday season.
The start of the movie awards season is only weeks away! Science Writer Christian Jarrett looks at cinema and the brain. The article mentions UW Biorobotics Lab’s involvement in the movie, “Ender’s Game.”
KPLU's most-clicked stories of 2013 include one about UW Engineering Professor Les Atlas's project to help cochlear implant users hear music.
From minimally invasive catheterization delivery to wireless power charging to overall miniaturization, the cardiovascular device field has seen plenty of advances in recent years.
Karen May-Newman, PhD, has been in the thick of it as the director of the bioengineering program at San Diego State University, where she designs and runs transparent heart simulators that game out how left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are changing the flow of blood through the heart and its valves.