Chip in Brain to Help Paraplegic and Parkinson’s Patients

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Chip Blessing

Scientists from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have developed a smart chip that can be paired with neural implants and aid Parkinson’s and paraplegic patients to move their prosthetic limbs. The smart chip can wirelessly transmit brain signals with high accuracy to the prosthetic limbs. It can also analyse data patterns and spot any abnormal or unusual patterns.

Neural implants are connected by wires to a computer outside the body that decodes the brain signals so that the artificial limb could be moved. However, these wires increase the risk of infection in the brain. The new chip that can wirelessly transmit brain signals with high accuracy has been tested on data recorded from animal models to prove that it could decode brain’s signal to hand and fingers with 95% accuracy.

Implants need a large amount of data to decode signals from the brain. Large amount of data would imply large battery with more power or frequent recharging. However, a large battery is not possible due to limited space in the brain for implants. Moreover, frequently recharging the battery would mean that the implants could not be used for long–term recording of signals. Scientists therefore, reduced the amount of data that is transmitted by the brain instead of increasing the battery size and capacity. The smart chip compresses the signals and sends it wirelessly to a small external receiver. Since the smart chip can also analyse any data pattern, scientists hope to implant the chip in security surveillance cameras to detect unusual patterns. The study was published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems.

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