DARPA-funded nonsurgical neurotechnologies push the frontier of brain-machine interfaces

Credit: J Robinson and Rice University

Rice University Charges Into the Future with Magnetics and Bioimplants (All About Circuits):

Advances in self-generating drug delivery systems, brain-to-brain communication, and injury mitigation technologies are just some of the newest research coming down the pipeline from Rice University.

Several research projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) N3 program might herald a future of highly advanced human-machine interfacing that expands the capabilities of soldiers and first responders.

This article will first overview the DARPA program and the basics of these three programs. Then, a look at the common electronics technologies that are being used in biotechnology at Rice University. Keep reading excellent article HERE, over at All About Circuits.

About DARPA’s N3 program:

Six paths to the nonsurgical future of brain-machine interfaces (DARPA):

Back in 2019, DARPA awarded funding to six organizations to support the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program, first announced in March 2018. Battelle Memorial Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Rice University, and Teledyne Scientific were selected to help develop high-resolution, bidirectional brain-machine interfaces for use by able-bodied service members.

The N3 teams are pursuing a range of approaches that use optics, acoustics, and electromagnetics to record neural activity and/or send signals back to the brain at high speed and resolution. The research is split between two tracks. Teams are pursuing either completely noninvasive interfaces that are entirely external to the body or minutely invasive interface systems that include nanotransducers that can be temporarily and nonsurgically delivered to the brain to improve signal resolution.

The Rice University team, under principal investigator Dr. Jacob Robinson, aims to develop a minutely invasive, bidirectional system for recording from and writing to the brain. For the recording function, the interface will use diffuse optical tomography to infer neural activity by measuring light scattering in neural tissue. To enable the write function, the team will use a magneto-genetic approach to make neurons sensitive to magnetic fields.

News in Context:

  • Eight research teams working with DARPA to discover best ways to activate neuroplasticity and accelerate learning
  • DARPA launches Targeted Neuroplasticity Training program to accelerate cognitive skills training
  • Five reasons the future of brain enhancement is digital, pervasive and (hopefully) bright
  • 10 neurotechnologies about to transform brain enhancement and brain health

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