Tuesday, July 31, 2007

University of Florida project

A post hit Slashdot on the University of Florida Neuroprosthetics Research Group, headed by Justin Sanchez, and their efforts to develop a neuroprosthetic 'chip'. The article is horribly vague, but discusses stimulation as well as recording, and using intracortical signals. However, the emphasis on the EEG performance in the past makes me think this is something like a subdural grid. But, then it goes on to say that the signals will be recorded from a wire the width of a human hair. Wow, I hate science journalism. I cringe at lines like, "The initial goal? To correct conditions such as paralysis and epilepsy." That all?!?!? Pffft. Slackers.

From what I can gather, they are working on an intracortical electrode plus on board DSP which will detect early seizure activity and send a patterned pulse to disrupt an identified pre-seizure pattern. It will probably be entirely self contained and use some type of power supply similar to the Medtronics electrodes, or a long lasting on board battery in the control unit, which will probably be secured to the skull (no craniotomy to replace battery, have to crack the skull anyways to get the device in place, well established technique, etc.). But this is all just a guess. I know I've heard of Sanchez's work, I just can't place it...

As always, I like posts on sites like Slashdot because the article may actually be pretty crappy (like this one), but the user feedback is interesting, and sometimes funny. You have to be curious about what people outside the actual field think of the technology, besides that it's 'cool'. There's even a post from the perspective of a guy whose father-in-law has a DBS system.

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