New Technology for Interfacing with the Human Brain
National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies, Wadsworth Center, NYSDH
Wadsworth scientists and engineers are building a unique technological infrastructure that supports real-time interactions with the central nervous system (CNS). They are using it to produce important new scientific insights and novel clinical methods, and they are beginning to disseminate these achievements to others. For example, they have shown in people with spinal cord injuries that a protocol that repeatedly elicits a hyperactive reflex and consistently rewards the smaller responses can induce concurrent CNS adaptation (i.e., plasticity) that gradually weakens the hyperactive reflex pathway and thereby helps to restore a skill such as locomotion. And, in people who have lost all muscle control, a protocol that presents a cursor movement task and appropriately translates a specific feature of electroencephalographic (EEG) activity into cursor movements can guide concurrent CNS adaptation that enables the individuals to control the EEG feature and use it to communicate. New understanding of CNS plasticity generates these protocols and new technology implements them.