are working to recover normal movement and behavior within patients
who have suffered
brain damage by creating microelectronic circuitry that will
promote the reconnection of neurons and growth of axons.
type of work was inspired by the brain injuries and trauma the troops
in Iraq and Afghanistan face. Pedram Mohseni, a professor of
electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve
University, along with Randolph J. Nudo, professor of molecular and
integrative physiology at Kansas University Medical Center, are the
top researchers on this project who recognize that head
trauma/injury is common in injured soldiers, despite their
use of armor and helmets.
damage comes with side effects that can drastically alter a person's
normal reality, such as loss of mobility, balance, coordination and
problem-solving skills. Emotional side effects include depression,
anxiety, social inappropriateness, emotional outbursts, mood swings
now, further research of these injuries indicates that a healthy
brain, as it develops, creates and maintains communication pathways
that allow neurons to "repeatedly fire together." So
Mohseni and Nudo's new research revolves around the repeated
communications between neurons who are distant only weeks after
injury, which could lead to the reconnection of distant axons as
note that the month following an injury is a crucial time period in
their research because the brain is redeveloping at this point. This
allows them to perform extensive
rewiring where the brain cannot do so itself.
month following injury is a window of opportunity," said
Mohseni. "We believe we can do this with an injured brain, which
is very malleable."
researchers are able to do this by bringing their separate projects
and expertise together. Mohseni has been developing a multichannel
microelectronic device called a brain-machine-brain interface, which
is capable of bypassing gaps left after injury. This device works
through a microchip, which is smaller than a quarter, on a circuit
board where the
microchip amplifies neural action potentials, which are
signals created by one part of the brain. An algorithm is then used
to separate signals, which indicate brain spike activity from noise.
brain spike activity is found, the microchip delivers a "current
pulse" to activate neurons in another part of the brain, thus
reconnecting both regions of the brain.
contributed his expertise on brain activity, after studying and
mapping brain activity in rats, then testing the new device and the
neuroanatomical rewiring theory on a traumatic brain injury model.
brain-machine-brain interface is a miniature device that connects to
microelectrodes implanted in two regions of the brain, and stays
outside of the body.
the future, Mohseni and Nudo hope to test their ability to rewire the
brain further on rat
models. If this process turns out well, they would like to move
on to testing this procedure on non-human primates. If the primates
are able to recover from brain injuries after extensive rewiring,
Mohseni and Nudo see human patients using this in approximately 10
quote: Actually the brain is a very slow and inefficient analog computer.