Researchers and engineers at Rice University our developing a new flat microscope aptly named the FlatScope which is capable of decoding and triggering neurones on the surface of the brain, and could provide an alternative path for sight and sound to be delivered directly to the brain.
The project is part of a $65 million initiative announced by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) this week to develop a high-resolution neural interface.
In the long term the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program hopes to restore a person’s loss of vision or hearing with the aid of Rice’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department who will focus first on vision.
Current probes that monitor and deliver signals to neurons — for instance, to treat Parkinson’s disease or epilepsy — are extremely limited, according to the Rice team. “State-of-the-art systems have only 16 electrodes, and that creates a real practical limit on how well we can capture and represent information from the brain,” Rice engineer Jacob Robinson said.
“The inspiration comes from advances in semiconductor manufacturing,” Robinson said. “We’re able to create extremely dense processors with billions of elements on a chip for the phone in your pocket. So why not apply these advances to neural interfaces?”
For more information on the new FlatScope jump over to the Rice university website for details by following the link below.