Biomedical Hybrids – Some Experiments
Kevin Warwick, University of Reading, UK
Date: 3rd November 2010, 08:30-09:20
In this presentation several practical experiments are described. A look is taken at how the use of implant and electrode technology can be employed to create biological brains for robots, to enable human enhancement and for therapeutic purposes, such as to diminish the effects of certain neural illnesses. In all cases the end result is to increase the range of abilities of the recipients. An indication is given of a number of areas in which such technology has already had a profound effect, a key element being the need for a clear interface linking a biological brain directly with computer technology. The emphasis is placed on practical scientific studies that have been and are being undertaken and reported on. The area of focus is the use of electrode technology, where a connection is made directly with the cerebral cortex and/or nervous system. The presentation will also consider the future impact of the technology in question where robots have biological, or part-biological, brains and in which neural implants link the human nervous system bi-directionally with technology and the internet.
Short Biography: Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England, where he carries out research in artificial intelligence, control, robotics and cyborgs. As well as publishing over 500 research papers, Kevin’s experiments into implant technology led tohim being featured as the cover story on the US magazine, ‘Wired’. He has been awarded higher doctorates (DSc) both by Imperial College and the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, and has received Honorary Doctorates from Aston University, Bradford University and Coventry University. He was presented with The Future of Health Technology Award in MIT, was made an Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, received The IEE Senior Achievement Medal and the Mountbatten Medal. In 2000 Kevin presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled “The Rise of the Robots”. Kevin’s most recent research involves the invention of an intelligent deep brain stimulator to counteract the effects of Parkinson Disease tremors. Another project involves the use of biological neural networks to drive robots around. Kevin is though best known for his pioneering experiments involving a neuro-surgical implantation into the median nerves of his left arm to link his nervous system directly to a computer to assess the latest technology for use with the disabled. He was successful with the first extra-sensory (ultrasonic) input for a human and with the first purely electronic telegraphic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans.
Restoring the “Sixth Sense” with a Multichannel Vestibular Prosthesis
Charley Della Santina, Johns Hopkins, USA
Date: 4th November 2010, 08:30-09:20
Bilateral loss of vestibular sensation can disable individuals affected by ototoxic medications, infection, Ménière’s disease or other insults to the inner ear. Without input to the vestibulo-ocular and vestibulo-spinal reflexes that normally stabilize the eyes and body, victims of bilateral vestibular loss suffer blurred vision during head movement, postural instability, and chronic disequilibrium. While those who retain some residual sensation often compensate for their loss through rehabilitation exercises, profound loss leaves others with no adequate treatment options. An implantable neuroelectronic prosthesis that emulates the normal transduction of head movement into activity on the vestibular nerve could significantly improve quality of life for these patients. This presentation will review the impact of bilateral vestibular sensory loss, discuss electrophysiologic studies supporting the feasibility of prosthetic stimulation in this setting, and describe a multichannel vestibular prosthesis (MVP) designed to restore vestibular sensation of head rotation in all directions. Similar to a cochlear implant in concept and size, the prosthesis includes miniature gyroscopes to sense head rotation, a high speed microcontroller to process input and control stimulus protocols, and current sources switched between any pair of eight electrodes implanted within the vestibular labyrinth. In rodents and nonhuman primates rendered bilaterally vestibular-deficient via treatment with gentamicin (an antibiotic that often damages vestibular sensation in humans), the Johns Hopkins MVP restores the vestibulo-ocular reflex for head rotations about any axis of rotation in 3-dimensional space. Our efforts now focus on addressing issues prerequisite to human implantation, including refinement of electrode designs to enhance stimulus selectivity, optimization of stimulus protocols, and reduction of device size and power consumption.
Supported by the United States National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders R01-DC009255, K08-DC006216 and R01-DC002390; and by a grant from the American Otological Society.
Short Biography: Charley C. Della Santina, PhD MD is an Associate Professor of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he directs the Johns Hopkins Vestibular NeuroEngineering Lab. Dr. Della Santina received his PhD in BioEngineering from the University of California at Berkeley, where his work focused on development and application of micromachined silicon devices to create a chronic multichannel neural interface with the auditory/vestibular nerve. Since completing his medical degree at the University of California at San Francisco and residency at Johns Hopkins, he has been a clinician-scientist on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. As a practicing surgeon, Dr. Della Santina specializes in treatment of disorders of the inner ear. His clinical interests include restoration of hearing via cochlear implantation and management of patients suffering from vestibular disorders. His research centers on development of a multichannel vestibular prosthesis intended to restore inner ear sensation of head movement. His published works also include studies characterizing inner ear physiology and anatomy; developing novel clinical tests of vestibular function; and clarifying the effects of cochlear implantation, superior canal dehiscence syndrome, and intratympanic gentamicin therapy on the vestibular labyrinth. His recent honors include an American Otological Society Clinician-Scientist Award, the Robert Bárány Society Young Scientist of the Year Award, American Neurotology Society Frank M. Nizer Lectureship, the ENTER Foundation Award for Innovation in Otolaryngology, the ENT-UK Gordon Smyth Lectureship, and induction into the American Otological Society.
Steve Furber, University of Manchester, UK
Date: 5th November 2010, 08:30-09:20
Computer Technology has advanced spectacularly since the first program was executed by the Manchester ‘Baby’ machine on June 21 1948, but if this progress is to be sustained there are major challenges ahead in the area of transistor predictability and reliability and in the exploitation of massively-parallel computing resources. Biology has solved both of these problems, but we don’t understand how those solutions function at the level of information processing. Two questions arise from this line of thinking: - can massively-parallel computers be used to accelerate our understanding of brain function? - can our growing understanding of brain function point the way to more efficient, fault-tolerant computation? While these questions remain so far unanswered, they suggest a line of investigation that has been recognised under the Grand Challenge of ‘Building Brains’. The SpiNNaker project aims to address this challenge through the construction of a massively-parallel computer incorporating over a million ARM processors for the real-time modelling of large-scale systems of spiking neurons.
Short Biography:Steve Furber is the ICL Professor of Computer Engineering in the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester. He received his B.A. degree in Mathematics in 1974 and his Ph.D. in Aerodynamics in 1980 from the University of Cambridge. From 1980 to 1990 he worked in the hardware development group within the R&D department at Acorn Computers Ltd, and was a principal designer of the BBC Microcomputer and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor. The ARM is now the world’s highest-volume 32-bit microprocessor, with total shipments now approaching 20 billion. At Manchester he leads the Advanced Processor Technologies research group. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the BCS, the IET and the IEEE, and a member of Academia Europaea. His awards include a Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal, the IET Faraday Medal and a CBE, and he is a 2010 Millenium Technology Prize Laureate.