“The brain is made of billions of neurons. Many of these are dedicated to sensory perception. But how many neurons does it take in order to create what we call a percept?” Ehud Isacoff
In July 2017, Berkeley researchers were awarded a contract for up to $21.6M from DARPA to build an implantable brain-computer interface that may one day be used to restore sensory inputs to those who have lost them. The aim is ambitious: Create a device that can record from a million neurons and deliver patterned neuronal stimulation to encode sensory perceptions. This window into the brain will move the field of neurobiology forward by enabling researchers to directly test hypotheses about the neural correlates of perception, decision making, and behavior at a scale and precision beyond any existing technology.
The multidisciplinary Berkeley team has been hard at work creating the technology to make this happen. They are using an all optical approach, further developing adaptive optics and digital holography to create a miniature microscope that can precisely shape light in three dimensions in the brain.
“We use this technology to target a very specific pattern of light into the brain to both read the activity of a group of neurons but also to control it in real time. The goal of this project is to miniaturize such a device so that it can be implanted directly on the brain and interact in real time with the human brain. This will allow us both to answer fundamental questions in neuroscience but also to attempt to treat a wide array of neurological diseases.” Hillel Adesnik
Watch and learn about the astonishing technological advancements being created right here at UC Berkeley.
Acknowledgments and credits
A Berkeley Video production
Producer/director: jon schainker
Director of photography: John Kabasakalis
Editor: Scott Vento
Video production supported by the Kavli Foundation.
Research supported by DARPA.