Our research aim is to develop a new generation of biocompatible Brain Machine Interfaces (BMI), i.e. electrodes that can be implanted into the brain and spinal cord and be maintained there over long periods of time. The implantable electrodes will be used to establish stable high-fidelity communication between neuronal networks in the central nervous system and computers for research and therapeutic purposes. The focus is on developing truly biocompatible electrode constructions and implantation methods that cause minimal injury or irritation of the brain tissue, ensuring that physiological conditions are preserved. For this reason, the electrodes need to be able to follow the movements of the brain tissues, like seaweed in water.
An important aspect is to ensure positional stability of the implanted flexible electrodes for long periods of time, using highly innovative methods and techniques, as this is required for advanced analysis of neuronal network functions. We also put a lot of effort in developing software to be able to analyze the enormous amount of data acquired from implanted electrodes and for computer assisted interaction with neuronal networks.
By enabling both recordings of neuronal signaling and interactions with neuronal networks in physiological conditions, ground breaking research can be expected in the near future. This includes fundamental neuronal mechanisms related to information processing in underlying different brain states such as awake and asleep, mechanisms underlying learning and memory and mechanisms underlying sensory perceptions. It will also be possible to monitor alterations in neuronal signaling during degenerative processes, thereby providing clues to the understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms.
The clinical use of the new electrodes include application for symptomatic relief of chronic pain and movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, improving control of prostheses in paralyzed patients and diagnostics in patients suffering from drug resistant epilepsy. Other areas where the technique can be expected to be useful in the future are, for instance, treatments of narcolepsy and depression.
It is our hope that patients will be able to benefit from this research, with positive impact on individual suffering and social economic spending.