Minimally-Invasive Microelectrode Array Could Enable Brain Control of an Exoskeleton

A minimally-invasive stent electrode array that can be inserted into a 1mm blood vessel can record electric signals of sufficiently high quality to control an assistive mobility device, such as an exoskeleton. According to a paper in the Feb 8 Nature Biotechnology online, the new ‘stentrode’ can be safely implanted via angiography, alleviating the requirement for a risky craniotomy. In studies conducted in freely moving sheep, insertion of the ‘stentrode’ into a cortical vein overlying the motor cortex enabled acquisition of electric recordings comparable to epidural surface arrays overlying the dura mater. The team, led by Thomas Oxley from the University of Melbourne in Australia, is planning a clinical trial in the next two years to test whether the device can enable brain control of an exoskeleton in paralyzed patients.

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Oxley TJ, Opie NL, John SE, Rind GS, Ronayne SM, Wheeler TL, Judy JW, McDonald AJ, Dornom A, Lovell TJ, Steward C, Garrett DJ, Moffat BA, Lui EH, Yassi N, Campbell BC, Wong YT, Fox KE, Nurse ES, Bennett IE, Bauquier SH, Liyanage KA, van der Nagel NR, Perucca P, Ahnood A, Gill KP, Yan B, Churilov L, French CR, Desmond PM, Horne MK, Kiers L, Prawer S, Davis SM, Burkitt AN, Mitchell PJ, Grayden DB , May CN, O’Brien TJ. Minimally invasive endovascular stent-electrode array for high-fidelity, chronic recordings of cortical neural activity. Nat Biotechnol. 2016 Mar;34(3):320-7. ePub 2016 Feb 8. [Pubmed]

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