February 1, 2010

Advances in Neuroengineering

A recent event put on by the IEEE EMBS focused on recent advances in Neuroengineering, or the interfacing of the nervous systems. Neuroengineering is an emerging approach to treating disabilities, understanding the brain, and building closed-loop control systems for brain-machine computer applications. Here are the sessions (on IEEE.tv):

Advances in neuroengineering

Understanding and treating conditions of the brain

One interesting topic brought up at these session was "microsleeps". Using advanced monitoring techniques, the presence of signatures akin to attentional lapses have been discovered. Microsleeps are sleep states that last on very short time scales. The presence of microsleeps could only be detected using electrophysiological techniques. This might be useful in predicting the onset of apnea episodes, or instances when a driver or heavy machine operator is about to deficus from their
task.

There are also therapeutic applications of these methods. The most intriguing would be to couple the real-time monitoring of muscle and brain activity with cutting edge gene and cell therapy treatments. The videos are worth the watch.

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