FEIT Research Project Database

Control of prosthetic limbs from decoded brain signals

Project Leader: David Grayden
Staff: Mark Cook, Sam John, David Ackland
Collaborators: Dean Freestone (MDHS), Thomas Oxley (MDHS), Nicholas Opie (MDHS), Yan Wong (Monash University)
Sponsors: NHMRC
Primary Contact: David Grayden (grayden@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: brain-machine interface; electrophysiology; machine learning; medical bionics; neuroengineering
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering

The aim of this project is to create and validate a clinically viable device that will restore mobility to the millions of people worldwide suffering from paralysis. The device will serve as an artificial communication channel from the brain that can bypass damaged tissue, for example, in stroke or spinal cord injury patients. The communication channel will be a direct interface from the cerebral cortex to electronic components, a “brain-machine interface”. This interface will decode electrical activity from the brain, allowing communication with robotic devices, and enabling paralysed individuals to reconnect with the physical world.

We are proposing a new brain machine interface that does not rely on brain penetrating electrodes. We have demonstrated that it is possible to use subdural disc electrodes, which cause less damage as they are placed on the surface of the brain to record the intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG/ECoG). It has previously been thought that this type of signal is too complex to decode. However, we have shown that these data can be decoded and used to build equivalent models to those that have been created with penetrating electrodes. Furthermore, we have shown unequivocally that signals recorded from subdural electrodes are reliable for long periods of time (> 3 years).

To qualify as a PhD candidate for this research, you need to have a strong background in engineering, such as a degree in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering, or in Computer Science and have good programming skills. You should also have a desire to learn how the brain functions and have a great passion for research that translates to medical devices for use by patients. The student will in turn have the opportunity to work with a world-class group of scientists, engineers, biologists and physicians and have access to labs with world-class facilities and high calibre peers.