Institute for Translational Neuroscience

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The Institute for Translational Neuroscience's greatest strength is bringing together different groups under one common goal: to advance neuroscience research at the University of Minnesota.

The Institute for Translational Neuroscience (ITN) was established in 2007 as a University-wide presidential initiative to promote the transfer of discoveries in the basic neurosciences to clinical practice. The institute is charged to enhance basic science discovery with new knowledge leading to subsequent clinical trials and establishment of new therapeutic principles or tools.

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Research Spotlight

ITN Steering Committee Member Dr. Bin He and his team pioneer new robotic arm with the potential to improve the lives of those with degnerative diseases

Bionic arms controlled wirelessly by people’s thoughts are coming closer to reality as the result of research at the University of Minnesota that seeks to eliminate the need for risky surgical brain implants in order to work. Researcher Bin HeDirector of the Institute for Engineering in Medicine and Center for Neuroengineering, and colleagues reported on Wednesday the successful use of sensors in a cap worn on the head that interpret brain signals and instruct a robotic arm to make corresponding movements. Tests with eight study subjects found their thoughts could instruct an arm to complete a variety of real-world tasks, such as picking up a block and putting it on a rack.


Watch the video above to see the process in action

“This is the first time in the world that people can operate a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in a complex 3-D environment using only their thoughts without a brain implant,” said He, who directs the U’s Institute for Engineering in Medicine and its Center for Neuroengineering.

“Just by imagining moving their arms, they were able to move the robotic arm.”

His innovation was the development of software that allowed the sensors to filter the interference and ­correctly interpret the movement instructions the brain was ­trying to send.

“We figured out how to pick up the real brain signal out of the huge background noise ... and decode its intention,” He said.

Robotic arms already are options for amputees whose nerves can carry signals from the brain as far their joints. Surgeons then attach the nerve endings to the prosthetic devices and teach the users how to make their robotic arms do what they want. A 13-year-old from Westbrook, Minn., was the youngest patient to ever receive such a prosthetic system from Advanced Arm Dynamics in Maple Grove last fall.

But that technology doesn’t work for people whose nerves have been damaged to the point that brain signals don’t reach their extremities — people with severe spinal cord injuries or strokes. Hence the need for a device linking a computer directly to the brain — either with or without a brain implant.

The U test results were published in the latest edition of Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of the journal Nature.

To read the full article please follow this link.

This story has been circulated across local and national media. To see the other mentions of Dr. He's research follow the links below:

Goals

Our main goal is to attract and recruit top scientists to shape discoveries that will lead to tomorrow's cures. The institute exemplifies how different disciplines, departments, and centers can work together in partnership to evolve neurological disease research at the University of Minnesota. We have built a community that encourages learning, education, innovation, and discovery all of which are more successful in a team oriented environment. 

Innovation

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Moving promising neuroscience research forward

Exploration

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Discoveries happen where disciplines meet

Collaboration

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Combining powerhouse research and clinical care to impact lives