Recent Progress Toward High Performance Neural Prostheses

Andrew Schwartz
Andrew Schwartz
University of Pittsburgh, USA
11:30~12:30, November 19th, 2015

Abstract :

A better understanding neural population function would be an important advance in systems neuroscience. The change in emphasis from the single neuron to the neural ensemble has made it possible to extract high-fidelity information about movements that will occur in the near future. This ability is due to the distributed nature of information processing in the brain. Neurons encode many parameters simultaneously, but the fidelity of encoding at the level of individual neurons is weak. However, because encoding is redundant and consistent across the population, extraction methods based on multiple neurons are capable of generating a faithful representation of intended movement. The realization that useful information is embedded in the population has spawned the current success of brain-controlled interfaces. Since multiple movement parameters are encoded simultaneously in the same population of neurons, we have been gradually increasing the degrees of freedom (DOF) that a subject can control through the interface. Our early work showed that 3-dimensions could be controlled in a virtual reality task. We then demonstrated control of an anthropomorphic physical device with 4 DOF in a self-feeding task. Currently, monkeys in our laboratory are using this interface to control a very realistic, prosthetic arm with a wrist and hand to grasp objects in different locations and orientations. Our recent data show that we can extract 10-DOF to add hand shape and dexterity to our control set. This technology has now been extended to patients who are paralyzed and cannot move their arms or hands.



Professional Activities :

  • Neural correlates of action: single neurons and neural populations
  • Cortical Physiology
  • Cortical-Muscular Activation
  • Skeletal Biomechanics
  • Visual Motor transformation
  • Arm reaching
  • Reach-to-grasp
  • Control of dexterity
  • Neural Prosthetics
  • Anthropomorphic Robotics
  • Neural Statistics
  • System Control



Biography :

Dr. Schwartz received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1984 with a thesis entitled “Activity in the Deep Cerebellar Nuclei During Normal and Perturbed Locomotion”. He then went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he worked with Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, who was developing the concept of directional tuning and population-based movement representation in the motor cortex. While there, Schwartz was instrumental in developing the basis for three-dimensional trajectory representation in the motor cortex. In 1988, Dr. Schwartz began his independent research career at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. There, he developed a paradigm to explore the continuous cortical signals generated throughout volitional arm movements. This was done using monkeys trained to draw shapes while recording single-cell activity from their motor cortices. After developing the ability to capture a high fidelity representation of movement intention from the motor cortex, Schwartz teamed up with engineering colleagues at Arizona State University to develop cortical neural prosthetics. The work has progressed to the point that monkeys can now use these recorded signals to control motorized arm prostheses to reach out grasp a piece of food and return it to the mouth. Schwartz moved from the Barrow Neurological Institute to the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego in 1995 and then to the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. In addition to the prosthetics work, he has continued to utilize the neural trajectory representation to better understand the transformation from intended to actual movement using motor illusions in a virtual reality environment.



Awards &Honors :

  • 2010 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award
  • 2010 IBMISPS Pioneer in Medicine Award
  • 2010 Carnegie Science Award for Life Sciences
  • 2009-2015 Leader of CREST Project of JST