Direct brain path for sight, sound via implanted microscope

Rice University’s Jacob Robinson, with Yale and Columbia colleagues, are developing FlatScope — a flat, brain implanted microscope that monitors and triggers neurons which are modified to be fluorescent when active.

While capturing greater detail than current brain probes, the microscope also goes through deep levels that illustrate  sensory input processing — which they hope to be able to control.

Aiming to produce a super high-resolution neural interface, FlatScope is a part of  DARPA’s NESD program, founded by Phillip Alvelda, and now led by Brad Ringeisen.

Phillip Alvelda will be a featured speaker at ApplySci’s Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston conference on September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab.  Other speakers include:  Joi Ito – Ed Boyden – Roz Picard – George Church – Nathan Intrator –  Tom Insel – John Rogers – Jamshid Ghajar  – Michael Weintraub – Nancy Brown – Steve Kraus – Bill Geary – Mary Lou Jepsen – Daniela Rus

Registration rates increase Friday, July 21st

Toward a speech-driven auditory Brain Computer Interface

University of Oldenburg student Carlos Filipe da Silva Souto is in the early stages of developing a brain computer interface that can advise a user who he/she is listening to in a noisy room.   Wearers could focus on specific conversations, and tune out background noise.

Most BCI studies have focused on visual stimuli, which typically outperforms auditory stimuli systems, possibly because of the larger cortical surface of the visual system.  As researchers further optimize classification methods for auditory systems, performance will be improved.

The goal is for visually impaired or paralyzed people to be able to use natural speech features to control hearing devices.

ApplySci’s 6th  Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Roozbeh Ghaffari –Tarun Wadhwa – Eythor Bender – Unity Stoakes – Mounir Zok – Sky Christopherson – Marcus Weldon – Krishna Shenoy – Karl Deisseroth – Shahin Farshchi – Casper de Clercq – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Dirk Schapeler – Miguel Nicolelis





AR + Kinect games assist the hearing, visually impaired

Reflex Arc‘s  augmented reality games  work with  Microsoft Kinect to help children learn sign language and assist the visually impaired with exercise.   Boris gestures sign language, and  The Nepalese Necklace helps those with no limited sight  with mobility training.

The games encourage exercise and  are designed to help blind children learn about  spatial awareness, balance, coordination, and orientation.




Video messaging app for the hearing impaired

Glide combines the concepts of WhatsApp with Skype, enabling users to send short videos of themselves. It has become a popular communication tool for the hearing impaired, who use it for sign language messaging.

The app has 20 million registered users.  The company hopes to soon offer instant subtitles for sign language, and the ability to convert text into visual graphics.

Cochlear implant could improve senior cognition, mood

Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital researchers examined 94 cochlear implant patients 3 times — before they received the device, 6 months after implantation, and 1 year after implantation.

A year after the implant, (65 – 85 year old) subjects heard words more clearly, and most had improved cognition and fewer depression symptoms.  Dr. Isabelle Mosnier and colleagues detailed the study in a recent JAMA paper.

Mayo Clinic‘s Colin Driscoll said that it is known that hearing aids improve the  mood of seniors who need them, implying that the cochlear implant itself may not be the cause.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences.  Early registration rate until March 27.

iPhone controlled hearing aids

ReSound LiNX,  Beltone First and the Starkey Halo are hearing aids that work directly with iPhones.  Audio is sent to the device as it would a Bluetooth earpiece.  It can also act as a remote control.

One’s phone can be a hearing aid’s microphone,  record information about when and where it is adjusted, and track how often it’s used.  An audiologist can use this information to manage the device’s settings.  Lost hearing aids can be located via GPS.

Cochlear implant pulses deliver DNA for gene therapy

UNSW Professor Gary Housley used electrical pulses from a cochlear implant to deliver gene therapy, successfully regrowing auditory nerves.  Until now, the “bionic ear” has been largely constrained by the neural interface.

In the study, Professor Housley and colleagues used the cochlear implant electrode array for novel “close-field” electroporation to transduce mesenchymal cells lining the cochlear perilymphatic canals with a naked complementary DNA gene construct driving expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and a green fluorescent protein reporter. The focusing of electric fields by particular cochlear implant electrode configurations led to surprisingly efficient gene delivery to adjacent mesenchymal cells. The resulting BDNF expression stimulated regeneration of spiral ganglion neurites, which had atrophied 2 weeks after ototoxic treatment, in a bilateral sensorineural deafness model..

Integration of this technology into other “bionic” devices, such as electrode arrays used in deep brain stimulation, could create opportunities for safe, directed gene therapy of complex neurological disorders.