AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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SDSC’s Comet Helps Replicate Brain Circuitry to Direct a Realistic Prosthetic Arm

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“Evolutionary” algorithm may speed silicon implant development to correct brain damage

By applying a novel computer algorithm to mimic how the brain learns, a team of researchers – with the aid of the Comet supercomputer based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego and the Center’s Neuroscience Gateway – has identified and replicated neural circuitry that resembles the way an unimpaired brain controls limb movement. The research lays the groundwork to develop realistic “biomimetic neuroprosthetics” – brain implants that replicate brain circuits and their function – that one day could replace lost or damaged brain cells or tissue from tumors, stroke or other diseases. “In patients with motor paralysis, the biomimetic neuroprosthetic could be used to replace the deteriorated motor cortex where it could interact directly with healthy brain pre-motor regions, and send commands and receive feedback via the spinal cord to a prosthetic arm,” said W.W. Lytton, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the study’s principal investigator.

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