Dr. V. John Matthews, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Utah
Recent technological innovations such as functional neural stimulation (FNS) offer considerable benefits to paralyzed individuals. FNS can produce movement in paralyzed muscles by the application of electrical stimuli to the nerves innervating the muscles. The first part of this talk will describe how smooth muscle movements can be evoked using Utah slanted electrode arrays (USEAs) inserted into the motor nerves of the peripheral nervous system. The standard 4 x 4 mm USEAs contain 100 electrodes of varying lengths. Implantation of a USEA in a peripheral nerve allows highly selective electrical access to individual and small groups of axons. We will review approaches for designing asynchronously interleaved stimulation signals applied via individual electrodes in the arrays to evoke smooth, fatigue-resistant force that closely resembles normal motor function. The second part of this talk will describe efforts to decode cortical surface potentials, recorded with dense grids of microelectrodes. Decoding human intent from neural signals is a critical component of brain-computer interfaces. This information can then be used to control the muscles in tasks involving restoration of motor skills or to control a robot that performs desired tasks. We will discuss recent work on decoding neural data collected from patients implanted with microelectrode arrays. The talk will conclude with a discussion of some of the current research challenges in this area.