|A brain implant may eventually be used to reactivate paralyzed limbs.|
|Euisik Yoon, University of Michigan|
A brain implant developed at the University of Michigan (UM) uses the body’s skin like a conductor to wirelessly transmit the brain’s neural signals to control a computer and may eventually be used to reactivate paralyzed limbs.
“The implant is called the BioBolt and unlike other neural interface technologies that establish a connection from the brain to an external device such as a computer, it is minimally invasive and low power,” Euisik Yoon, principal investigator and professor in the UM College of Engineering, department of electrical engineering and computer science, stated in a press release.
BioBolt does not penetrate the cortex and is completely covered by the skin to greatly reduce risk of infection. Researchers believe it is a critical step toward the Holy Grail of brain-computer interfacing: allowing a paralyzed person to “think” a movement.
“The BioBolt looks like a bolt and is about the circumference of a dime, with a thumbnail-sized film of microcircuits attached to the bottom,” Yoon stated. “The BioBolt is implanted in the skull beneath the skin and the film of microcircuits sits on the brain. The microcircuits act as microphones to ‘listen’ to the overall pattern of firing neurons and associate them with a specific command from the brain. Those signals are amplified and filtered, then converted to digital signals and transmitted through the skin to a computer.”
Another promising application for the BioBolt is controlling epilepsy and diagnosing certain diseases like Parkinson’s.
“Eventually, the hope is that the signals can be transmitted through the skin to something on the body, such as a watch or a pair of earrings, to collect the signals,” Yoon stated.