In addition to basic science, research in the lab also seeks to develop and apply advanced neurotechnologies. We work with technology to extend our basic scientific understanding about the brain, as well as to develop novel brain-based devices to help treat people suffering neurological disorders.
One important direction has been to examine the properties of electrical brain potentials in order to provide specifications for devices that can be implanted into the brain to form advanced brain-machine interfaces. The ability to extract information-rich signals from the brain over long periods of time remains a major challenge. Our interest in developing advanced brain-machine interfaces, such as interfaces that are capable of controlling modern robotic systems with many degrees-of-freedom has led us to invest in virtual reality. We have developed a state-of-the-art virtual reality arena to examine the control of dexterous arm and hand movements using motion capture. We have also been investing in optogenetic tools in order to map large-scale circuits in the brain. By introducing modified proteins into neurons to make them light-sensitive and fluorescent we can control the activity of anatomically-defined brain circuits.