Recent advancements in neuro-scientific neuroprothetics could make it easy to learn more about how the brain stores and accesses information while also providing new insights into conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson\’s disease, researchers claim in a new study.
Writing in the journal Neuron, Dr. Karen Moxon, a professor in the Drexel University School of Biomedical Engineering Science and Health Systems, and Guglielmo Foffani from San Pablo University vacation create a framework to show how brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) can be used tools to help address the \”fundamental questions in neuroscience.\”
While BMIs are usually utilized in the form of neuroprosthetics to help those get over losing motor function, observing their operation also may help scientists study the processes by which an individual\’s brain to encode new data. In this manner, the subject of BMI experiments could provide real-time insight into various processes that occur in the brain.
\”The observed subjects of BMI experiments may also be regarded as indirect observers that belongs to them neurophysiological activity, and the relationship between observed neurons and (artificial) behavior could be genuinely causal rather than indirectly correlative\” C characteristics that defy the \”classical object-observer duality,\” according to Dr. Moxon and Foffani.
This makes neuroprosthetics \”particularly appealing for investigating how details are encoded and decoded by neural circuits instantly, how this coding changes with physiological learning and plasticity, and just how it is altered in pathological conditions,\” they added. \”Within neuroengineering, BMI is sort of a tree that opens its branches into many traditional engineering fields, but also extends deep roots into basic neuroscience beyond neuroprosthetics.\”
Dr. Moxon, a postdoctoral researcher in Drexel’s medical school, participated in the first study to ever examine how the brain might be linked to a operate a prosthetic limb, and she or he and her co-author cite examples from their own research they were in a position to isolate and study new parts of the brain because of advances in BMI technology over the years.
\”We believe neuroprosthetics could be a powerful tool to deal with fundamental questions of neuroscience,\” she said. \”These subjects can offer valuable data as indirect observers of their own neural activity which are modulated throughout the experiments they\’re getting involved in. This allows researchers to pinpoint a causal relationship between neural activity and the subject’s behavior rather than one that is indirectly correlative.\”
Neuroprosthetics, Dr. Moxon added, may help scientists overcome obstacles to brain-related research by proving the direct correlation from a subject\’s action and the behavior of the cognitive abilities to prove that neurons are the actual cause of a specific behavior. Along with acting like a surrogate part of the body, the BMI device can provide real-time feedback from the brain.
\”Subjects can be viewed as indirect observers that belongs to them neurophysiological activity during neuroprosthetic experiments,\” Dr. Moxon said. \”To slowly move the prosthesis they have to think both about the motor functions involved and the goal of the movement. As they see the movement of the prosthetic their brain adjusts instantly to continue planning the movement.\”
This is done without the regular feedback in the moving part of the body, because the prosthetic unit acts like a stand-in for that part of the body, she explained. This separation of planning and control of movement was necessary to her research on how the brain encodes for that passage of your time, she added, noting this is simply one example of research in to the BMI-brain function link.
Dr. Moxon asserted there has been \”tremendous advancements in neuroprosthetic technology\” over the past Fifteen years. \”The BMI research paradigm opens doors for any new knowledge of how we control our own thinking processes including neural plasticity,\” she added, \”and this has the potential to guide to new treatments and therapies for epilepsy, Parkinson’s and other pathologies.\”