Rehabilitation of a discrete motor learning function by a prosthetic chip

Fri, 16th May 2008

INEX today announces commencement of an EC FP7 funded collaborative project with the objective to demonstrate rehabilitation of a damaged or malfunctioning part of the brain through use of a silicon chip.  This groundbreaking demonstration project is part of the EC FET Programme in Bio-ICT Convergence and links contributions from Tel Aviv University  and WizSoft in Israel, the University of Pompeu Fabra at Barcelona in Spain, Lund University in Sweden, and g-tec in Austria. INEX is acting as project coordinator for this 3 year project.

Advances in medicine and technology are providing innovative solutions to complex conditions such as neurodegenerative disease.

The ReNaChip project aims to integrate an artificial “brain chip” with the biological tissue of the brain to replace lost function. It is hoped that the findings of this project can in future be applied to provide novel approaches for the treatment of pathologies such as Parkinson’s disease or stroke.

As we age some brain functions are lost, an example being learning and retention of the eye blink reflex response. The associated cerebellar micro circuit is very well defined, receiving only two sensory neuronal inputs and providing one motor neuronal output. The impact of damage to this circuit can be assessed through behavioural responses that can be readily isolated.

The project partners will develop novel electrodes to both detect the stimulus to the eye blink response and to trigger the eyeblink response. These electrodes will interface with the sensory inputs and motor outputs of a silicon micro circuit respectively.

Signal and information processing will be used to extract the specific stimulus signals from the background neuronal activity recorded by the electrodes. The data will be manipulated, processed and interpreted in the silicon chip which will mimic the function of the compromised cerebellar circuit. The output from this biomimetic chip will then trigger the eyeblink response by way of the implanted stimulation electrodes.

More details on this project and links to the project partners can be found on the project website at www.renachip.org or by contacting enquiries@renachip.org.