In the Neural Engineering Center, part of our work focuses on neural and brain machine interfaces. One of the key elements of the ability to analyze neural systems and to enhance or replace neuronal function with engineered devices is the interface between the two systems. Currently devices are limited by the available technology. The challenge to neural engineers is to develop electrodes that can selectively record from and activate only a few axons at a time.
The design requires electrodes with associated electronic circuits to collect information about the activity of the nervous system and to stimulate neural tissue to restore function or sensation. Moreover, the materials used must match the mechanical properties of the neural tissue in which they are placed and the potential damage of the devices must be evaluated. Innovations are accelerating and intimate contact between machines and neural tissue is within reach.