Affilliation: Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University
My background combines physics (MPhys, Oxford University,UK 1994-1998) and Neuroscience (PhD, University College London, UK 1998-2002). From 2002 to 2006 I was a research fellow at the University of Washington, US where I developed ‘Neurochip’ technology for continuous monitoring and manipulation of neural activity, and became interested in potential applications of closed-loop interfaces as neural prostheses as well as tools for manipulating activity-dependent plasticity during neurorehabilitation. In 2006 I moved to Newcastle University where I am now a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Neuroscience. My laboratory conducts electrophysiological studies in non-human primates using implanted electrodes and wearable electronics, as well as human studies using non-invasive recording (EEG, EMG) and stimulation (TMS, TDCS). A major interest is closed-loop cortical control of spinal cord stimulation to restore function to the upper-limb; we are currently working to improve the longevity of interface technologies as well as implementing low-power implantable electronics for closed-loop control. In addition, we use abstract myoelectric-controlled and brain-controlled interfaces to study basic neuroscience questions about motor control, learning and neural plasticity. Finally, I lead the CANDO consortium developing an optoelectronic device for the treatment of epilepsy.
Talk Title: Closed-loop neural interfaces: challenges and opportunities
Brain-Machine Interfaces decode electrical activity directly from the nervous system to provide a new communication channel for the brain to interact with the environment. Meanwhile, neurostimulation has been applied successfully to modulate neural activity for therapeutic benefit. Recent attention has increasingly focused on closed-loop interfaces which combine recording and stimulation capabilities for real-time bidirectional interaction with the nervous system. Such devices could replace neural connections lost through injury or disease. For example, closed-loop cortical control of spinal cord stimulation can provide an artificial motor pathway to restore voluntary movement to paralysed limbs. In addition, closed-loop interfaces can induce neuroplastic changes that could help repair the injured nervous system. Key technological barriers to clinical applications include the long-term stability of recording and stimulation efficacy, as well as implementation within a low-power subcutaneous implant. I will describe several advances to address these challenges including the use of low-frequency local field potentials and novel spinal cord stimulation techniques. Finally I will speculate on future applications of closed-loop optoelectronic interfaces exploiting optogenetic techniques.