Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) members, Raj Rao, Jenny Cronin and James Wu, are featured in an article within the January 2018 issue of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine that explains how their research will enable an individual to precisely control movements while opening and closing a prosthetic hand.
“Signal Processing Powers Next-Generation Prosthetics,” explores different investigative techniques currently being used by scientists and engineers to enable artificial limbs to behave more like their natural counterparts. Researchers at London’s Imperial College and England’s Newcastle University are also interviewed.
Rao, Cronin, and Wu’s experiments marked the first time in humans researchers were able to use brain surface stimulation to provide ‘touch’ feedback to direct movement. Their work focuses on decoding finger and grasp movements from electrocorticographic (ECoG) electrodes and sending finger position and tactile information back to the brain. The results of this research could be used for control of a prosthetic hand or arm for a below-elbow amputee or paralyzed individual.
“We are developing a bi-directional brain-computer interface (BBCI) that not only records and interprets electrical signals from the brain but also provides information back to the brain through [electrical] stimulation,” Cronin stated in the IEEE article. She also noted the importance of using the BBCI in tandem with technologically-advanced prosthetic limbs for greatest success. “The hand-arm prosthetic needs to have its own control mechanisms for executing basic finger movements and grasps, as well as tactile sensors and encoders for recording finger joint positions.”
In addition to furthering BBCI development, Rao, Cronin and Wu’s research is contributing to foundational knowledge needed to engineer neuroplasticity in the brain and spinal cord, helping these organs better adapt after a stroke or injury. Engineering neuroplasticity is a new form of rehabilitation that uses engineered devices to restore lost or injured connections in the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the nervous system, and it is fundamental to the CSNE’s mission and vision.
For more information, read the full article, “Signal Processing Powers Next-Generation Prosthetics,” in IEEE Signal Processing Magazine.