Our laboratory uses neural prosthetics, specifically human-machine interfaces, to pursue the goals of improving both our understanding of brain function as well as restoring movement and communication to people with neurologic impairment from disorders such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and ALS.
Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) are devices that record signals from the brain, decode them, and use them to control a variety of outputs such as a computer cursor, prosthetic limb, or electrically-stimulated muscles in a paralyzed limb. BMIs could allow patients with severe paralysis (quadriplegic or “locked-in,” for example from ALS or spinal cord injury) to interact with their environment and potentially regain the use of a limb. In addition, this technology could also provide a way for such individuals with impairment to communicate by directly decoding their intended speech. Myoelectric-computer interfaces (MCIs) record electrical signals from muscles and use them to control a computer cursor. We are developing MCIs that could help people with impaired arm movement from a stroke to improve their function.