Department of Biomedical Engineering
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 2:00 p.m.
DeGrace Hall - Room 312

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense of Daniel Tan

"Restoring sensation in human upper extremity amputees using chronic peripheral nerve interfaces"

Monday, June 30, 2014, 12:30 p.m.
Sears - Room 350

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense of Natalie Brill

"Optimization of High Density Nerve Cuff Stimulation in Upper Extremity Nerves"

Friday, June 20, 2014, 3:00 p.m.
Nord Hall, Room 400

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense of James Liao

"Evaluating Multi-Modal Brain-Computer Interfaces for Controlling Arm Movements using a Simulator of Human Reaching"

Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) provide a potential means for individuals with tetraplegia to command arm prostheses such as Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) systems and regain the ability to make functional movements of their arms. Many BCI implementations focus on decoding parameters of intended movement such as instantaneous position or velocity. However, specifying movements in terms of instantaneous kinematics may not be the best way to command arm prostheses to perform reaching tasks, because many reaching tasks are inherently goal-oriented. Our motivation was to explore how neurons tuned for movement goal affect the performance of BCIs in reaching tasks. We used a simulation approach t generate goal-tuned neurons and evaluated how performance varied with the number of position, velocity, and goal neurons.

To accomplish this, we first developed an experimentally trained closed-loop model of human reaching movements that was capable of producing error corrections and provided a set of command signals that included position, velocity, and goal. Then, firing rates tuned for position, velocity, and goal-tuned neurons were simulated based on these commands. We implemented a decoder capable of utilizing all three information modalities. Our results suggest that goal-tuned neurons could be used to drive a BCI with enough precision to perform functional arm reaching tasks. However, the precision afforded was not as high as with velocity-tuned cells. We anticipate that our findings and the approach itself will inform future BCI research directions and ultimately improve the treatment options for individuals with tetraplegia.


5-22-2014: MSc Defense of NIcholas Couturier
2:00 pm, Nord 400.
"Sensory Stimulation for the Suppression of Seizures"


Friday, May 16, 2014, 8:00 a.m.
Wolstein Auditorium

Symposium on Nerve Regeneration and Repair
In honor of Lynn Landmesser's retirement as Chair of the Dept. of Neurosciences

Click here for the program flyer.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014. 10:00 a.m.
Nord Hall, Room 400

PhD Defense of Kelsey A. Potter, B.S.

“Anti-oxidative approaches to improve neuronal viability surrounding implanted intracortical microelectrodes”
Thesis Advisor: Jeffrey R. Capadona, Ph.D.

Intracortical microelectrodes show large potential in helping neuroscientists further map and understand the mechanics of the brain. In addition, microelectrode technology could potentially provide the means for translating “thought” into “movement” for patients suffering from neurological deficits. However, general unreliability of microelectrode technology has halted its widespread clinical use. Further understanding of the key failure modes of intracortical microelectrodes has suggested a key role for oxidative stress in material, electrical, and biological failure modes. The overall goal of this work was to examine the role of reducing oxidative stress around implanted microelectrodes using multiple anti-oxidative approaches. In this dissertation we report on the dynamic inflammatory response that exists following implantation of single-shank planar microelectrode arrays and improved methodology to quantify the molecular events occurring at the microelectrode-tissue interface. We also examine multiple anti-oxidative approaches to (1) reduce localized reactive oxygen species accumulation, (2) prevent breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and/or (3) reduce the amount of neurodegeneration that occurs surrounding implanted microelectrodes. Of note, we observed that short term (<48 hours) administration or release of anti-oxidants could facilitate improvements in either neuronal density or viability up to two months after device implantation. Improvements in neuronal health were directly correlated with a localized decrease in accumulated reactive oxygen species and a more stable blood-brain barrier. Long-term administration of anti-oxidants was able to facilitate improved neuronal viability around implanted microelectrodes, in comparison to controls, up to four months post-implantation. The results of this work further support the hypothesis that oxidative stress may facilitate multiple failure modes to intracortical microelectrodes. We anticipate that anti-oxidative approaches outlined here will be directly translational and aide in the improved reliability of microelectrode technology for use in both basic neuroscience and clinical applications.


Monday, March 10, 2014. 1:00 p.m.
Nord Hall, Room 204

PhD Defense of Kathleen Jagodnik, M.S.

"Reinforcement Learning and Feedback Control for High-Level Upper-Extremity Neuroprostheses"
Thesis Advisor: Robert F. Kirsch, Ph.D.

High-level spinal cord injury causes paralysis below the level of the neck. Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) is a technology that restores voluntary movement via application of electrical current to nerves and muscles. Our work aims to restore movement in the paralyzed upper limb. When implementing FES systems, effective controllers are needed to translate the arm’s current and desired positions into a pattern of muscle stimulations that achieve the target position accurately and efficiently. Although a range of upper-extremity neuroprosthesis controllers exist, none is capable of restoring accurate, natural arm movement in a clinical setting.

For the purpose of advancing upper-extremity FES control technology, we explore Reinforcement learning (RL), a control strategy that uses delayed reward and a trial-and-error search to develop its action policy. A potential advantage of RL control for upper-extremity FES systems is that the human user’s preferences can be incorporated into the controller’s training through the use of human-generated rewards of the controller’s actions. To date, RL control has been minimally explored for FES systems, and human rewards have never been incorporated for this application.

An RL controller was implemented for a planar 2 degree of freedom biomechanical arm model, and this project explored the feasibility of using human rewards to train the RL controller. Simulation experiments were performed using pseudo-human, computer generated rewards that simulate the rewards that a human would be likely to assign. A range of experiments was performed to examine the learning properties of RL control using human-like rewards, and it was determined that RL controller learning occurs over a measurable time frame. Subsequently, human rewards were introduced to train the RL controller. Ten human subjects viewed animations of arm reaching movements, and assigned rewards to train the RL controller based on the quality of each movement. The RL controllers trained by humans learned well, although pseudo-human reward training was found to be equally effective. We discuss the potential benefits of using pseudo-human rewards for initial RL controller training, with subsequent fine-tuning training using human rewards. Reinforcement learning is a promising control strategy to restore natural arm movement to individuals with high-level paralysis.

3-06-2014: Ford Lecture.
Allen and Constance Ford Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring David Van Essen, the Alumni Endowed Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University in St. Louis
3:30-4 p.m. Meeting with President Snyder, Dr. Van Essen, and Mr. Ford, Office of the President, Adelbert Hall
4:30 Lecture, Auditorium, Wolstein Research Building
5:30 Reception, Atrium, Wolstein Research Building

About the Speaker

Alumni Endowed Professor of Neurobiology
Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

David Van Essen received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry in 1967 from Caltech and his graduate degree in neurobiology in 1971 from Harvard. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard under Drs. David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel and did additional postdoctoral work in Norway and England before returning to Caltech in 1976. He was a faculty member in the Division of Biology at Caltech until 1992, during which time he served as Executive Officer for Neurobiology (1982-1989) and Option Representative for the Computation and Neural Systems program (1986-1991). In 1992 he became Edison Professor of Neurobiology and Head of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine. In fall 2012 he stepped down as Department Head to continue his research at Washington University He served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroscience from 1994-1998. In 1994 he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served in leadership positions of many organizations, including founding chair of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (1996). Councilor (1992-2002), Secretary (2002-2004), and President (2006-2007) of the Society for Neuroscience, President of the Association of Medical School Neuroscience Department Chairs (2006-2008), and advisory boards for NINDS, HHMI, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

Dr. Van Essen is internationally known for his research on the structure, function, and development of cerebral cortex in general and the visual cortex in particular. He has made extensive contributions to the understanding of how the brain perceives shape, motion and color and how attention affects neural activity. His work has helped to demonstrate that the brain contains dozens of different areas involved in vision and that these areas are interconnected by hundreds of distinct neural pathways. He and his colleagues have developed powerful new techniques in computerized brain mapping and neuroinformatics, and have used these methods to elucidate the functional organization of cerebral cortex in humans and nonhuman primates. He is the Principal Investigator for the Human Connectome Project, an ambitious endeavor to chart long-distance neural pathways in a large population of healthy adult humans.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013
3:00 p.m.
Wickenden Building room 307

PhD Defense of Thomas Paul Ladas

"An Optogenetic Approach to Induce Seizure Suppression"


Neural Engineering Transformative Technologies: NETT 2013
July 1-6 2013
Nottingham, UK

Scientific Organisers
Stephen Coombes, University of Nottingham
Wolfram Erlhagen, University of Minho
Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo, Polytechnic University of Catalonia

Bert Kappen, Radboud University NijmegenNeural Engineering is an inherently new discipline that brings together engineering, physics, neuroscience and mathematics to design and develop brain-computer interface systems, cognitive computers and neural prosthetics. This one week conference will bring together international experts in these key areas to discuss the state of the art in the field of Neural Engineering. It will also include a number of tutorial presentations for those new to the field as well as presentations from industrial companies including National Instruments, Brain Products and BitBrain.

For further details about this event see


Thursday, May 30, 2013
2:00 p.m.
Wickenden Building room 322

PhD Defense of Aaron Hadley

"Dynamic Laryngo-Tracheal Control for Airway Management in Dysphagia"
Advisor: Dustin J. Tyler, Ph.D.


Control of the laryngo-tracheal opening is necessary to balance the body’s constant need of oxygen, phonate speech, and enable safe intake of food. A common result of traumatic brain injury and stroke is paralysis and paresis of the vocal folds, causing impaired breathing, hoarseness, and aspiration. Vocal fold adduction and laryngeal elevation serve as protective mechanisms to divert fluids and food away from the airway and into the esophagus during deglutition. The aims of the current study were to: 1) Examine selective hypoglossal nerve stimulation for laryngeal elevation, 2) Optimize the stimulation angles and parameters of transtracheal stimulation, and 3) Develop an automatic detection algorithm using natural signals from swallowing.

Hypoglossal nerve stimulation induced laryngeal elevation to a magnitude approximately equal to that of a natural swallow, and FINE electrodes were shown to be able to selectively activate the muscles of elevation. Transtracheal stimulation, when applied at the optimized angles, was able to induce complete vocal fold adduction. A time-delay artificial neural network was trained to sensitively and selectively detect swallowing using oral pressure signals. This research advances the creation of a closed-loop laryngeal stimulator for dysphagia protection by assessing novel stimulation paradigms, producing an automatic control signal, and combining laryngeal stimulation measures for more complete protection. The conclusive results from this research should be followed by human studies utilizing a complete laryngeal stimulation system to improve the health and quality of life of victims of stroke.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013
8:00 am
NORD Building, Room 400

PhD Defense of Nathaniel Makowski

"Can poststroke reaching assistance be controlled by residualmovement?"
Advisor: Patrick E. Crago, Ph.D.


Hemiparesis after stroke makes bimanual tasks difficult. One aspect of this impairment is involuntary muscle co-activation in response to voluntary effort for other muscles. Consequently, Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for reach and hand opening, coupled with residual voluntary movement, may be able to provide functional arm and hand movement. This type of approach has been attempted in the past with a focus on the hand, but effort to reach and open the hand produces involuntary flexor co-activation that hand opening stimulation cannot overpower. Limiting the effort used as a command signal and augmenting it with stimulation may limit the expression of co-activation patterns and produce useful movements.

We tested key aspects of the system to evaluate feasibility of using stimulation to produce functional movement in the presence of voluntary effort and how well stroke patients can control assistive forces analogous to those produced by FES. To answer these questions we evaluated the following aims: 1) Determine if FES in the presence of limited effort produces useful reach and hand opening. 2) Evaluate the interaction of FES with voluntary effort in stroke to understand if stimulation of a volitionally activated muscle produces additional force/movement and how those forces combine. 3) Evaluate poststroke control of assistive forces to assist in reach. Results indicate that FES coupled with limited effort can produce useful reach and hand opening in some stroke patients. The force increment provided by this stimulation decreases as the voluntary effort exerted increases, but it still adds to the assistive force. Additionally, stroke patients can control assistive forces from a robot using residual arm movements on their affected side, indicating that EMG from the affected upper extremity could be used as an effective command signal to control FES and might be used in concert with FES to produce useful arm and hand movements. The positive results from these studies are a step towards an assistive technology to help people move their arm and hand after stroke.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013
9:00 am
NORD Building, Room 204

PhD Defense of Peter Cooman, M.S.

"Controlling Human Arm Movements Generated by Functional Electrical Stimulation"
Advisor: Robert F. Kirsch, M.D.


Using a model-based approach, we designed and evaluated nonlinear combined feedforward-feedback algorithms to control arm movements in the presence of a wide range of perturbations: (1) manipulation of objects of unknown mass, (2) sensor noise, (3) muscle fatigue, (4) model uncertainty with respect to the true inertial properties of the arm and the true muscle dynamics, and (5) input time delays. These algorithms were developed specifically for use in FES neuroprostheses for individuals with paralysis due to spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders. An initial comparison of combined feedforward-feedback proportional-derivative (PD), adaptive control, and sliding mode control showed that input time delays quickly caused instability for all three controllers if feedback gains were chosen too high. Decreasing the feedback gains (i.e., shifting towards feedforward control) re-established stability, but greatly reduced performance as measured by the root-mean-square error between the specified movement intent and the simulated joint angles. Input time delays are unavoidable in FES applications, arising from the muscle dynamics and the relatively low stimulation frequency (i.e. 12Hz) typically used in upper extremity FES neuroprostheses. The destabilizing effects of time delay therefore cannot be ignored. Using a 2DOF musculoskeletal arm model, we designed and evaluated a nonlinear combined feedforward-feedback controller with time delay compensation. In the presence of a typical 80ms time delay, this controller achieved excellent tracking accuracy, both under ideal conditions (shoulder RMSE: 0.27º, elbow RMSE: 0.62º) and in the presence of a wide variety of perturbations expected under normal operating conditions (shoulder RMSE: 2.99º, elbow RMSE: 5.15º). We extended this time delay compensating controller to a more functionally relevant 5DOF arm model. This extended controller achieved stable, accurate tracking, even in the presence of time delay, measurement noise, muscle fatigue and additional loading - but only if the inertial properties of the arm were exactly known. Future research in gravity compensation and adaptation may further improve the robustness of the time delay compensating controller for the 5DOF arm model.


Neurosciences Seminar and The Distinguished Neural Prosthesis Lecture

Thursday, April 4, 2013
12:30 p.m.

School of Medicine, Robbins Bldg./East Wing
Room E501

"Chasing Men on Fire: Na Channels and Neurological Disorders"


Thursday, March 14, 2013
1:30 pm
School of Medicine (SOM 7th floor) E739

PhD Defense of Andrew Shoffstall

“Synthetic platelets to augment hemostasis”
Advisor: Erin Lavik, Sc.D.


Uncontrolled hemorrhage comprises 60-70% of trauma-associated mortality in the absence of other lethal conditions (e.g. damage to central nervous or cardiac system). Immediate intervention is critical to improving chances of survival. While there are several products to control bleeding for external wounds including pressure dressings, tourniquets or topical hemostatic agents there are few, if any, effective treatments that can be administered in the field to help staunch internal bleeding.

Intravenous hemostatic nanoparticles that augment blood clotting when administered after trauma have been previously shown to half bleeding times in a femoral artery injury model in rats. The aims of the present study were to: 1) Determine their efficacy in a lethal hemorrhagic liver injury model, 2) determine the impact of targeting ligand concentration on hemostasis, and 3) test them in a clinically relevant porcine model of hemorrhage.

Nanoparticle administration (GRGDS-NP1, 40 mg/kg) after lethal liver resection in the rat increased 1-hour survival to 80% compared to 40-47% in controls. Targeting ligand conjugation was then increased 100-fold (GRGDS-NP100), and a dosing study performed. GRGDS-NP100 hemostatic nanoparticles (2.5 mg/kg) were efficacious at doses 8-fold lower than GRGDS-NP1, and increased 1-hour survival to 92%. In vitro analysis using rotational thromboelastometry (ROTEM) confirmed the increased dose-sensitivity of GRGDS-NP100 and laid the foundation for methods to determine optimal ligand concentration parameters.

Hemostatic nanoparticles were then tested in a clinically relevant porcine liver injury model, which elucidated an unexpected adverse reaction, comprised of a massive hemorrhagic response. A naïve (uninjured) porcine model was then employed. These experiments revealed an adverse reaction consistent with complement activation related pseudoallergy (CARPA), which could be mediated by tuning nanoparticles’ zeta potential. Neutralizing the nanoparticle charge mitigated the onset of CARPA, while negative (-30 mV) or positive (+20 mV) zeta potential led to adverse CARPA symptoms (e.g., cardiopulmonary dysfunction with spontaneous recovery within minutes). While the sensitivity to CARPA is exaggerated in the pig model compared to humans, its consequences when triggered during hemorrhagic injury could be catastrophic in a subset of the population. Therefore, minimizing its risk will be paramount to the clinical translation of this technology.


Monday, March 11, 2013
4:00 pm
Orthopedics Conference Room - 3rd floor BRB

PhD Defense of Gary Anthony Wu

“Evaluation of tissue health and interventions for the prevention of pressure ulcers in persons with spinal cord injury”
Advisor: Kath Bogie, D. Phil

Persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) have atrophied muscle, leading to increased risk of developing pressure ulcers (PU). Even so, some persons with SCI are more susceptible to PUs. The thesis presents several measurements of tissue health as a means to better understand individual differences.

The gluteus maximus muscle of persons with SCI in the study have increased intramuscular fat and decreased lean muscle which make the tissue around bony prominences prone to higher stress and strains. Furthermore, this atrophy is more pronounced in the region of the ischial tuberosities. A relationship was found between PU history with the gluteal muscle quality/composition but not with muscle cross-sectional area (CSA).

Weight redistributing cushions are prescribed to address the increased risk of developing PUs around the bony prominences. The Tissue Health Evaluation Toolbox (THEToolbox) was used to determine the impact of standard cushions and dynamic cushions on the seating interface. The overall improvements in tissue health with use of dynamic cushion are similar though smaller in magnitude to weight shifting practices on a standard cushion. Differences include prolonged increase in oxygenation during intervention period and increase in myogenic contribution to bloodflow post-intervention with dynamic cushion use not observed with weight shifts.
Gluteal muscle mass increased in persons with SCI with continued use of gluteal neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). Concurrent use of trunk and gluteal stimulation improved anterior/posterior postural misalignment. The postural correction improved regional tissue health. There was a small positive impact on maximum IP gradient with improved lateral postural instability.

NMES is an approach that could address both extrinsic need for periodic, sustained weight shifting and intrinsic need to improve muscle geometry and quality. An approach to improve placement of electrodes by visualizing the inferior gluteal nerve with computer tomography was not successful.

The increase in both intramuscular and visceral fat together with varying levels of muscle atrophy and differing physiological responses to weight shifting further the case for individualized care.


Friday, March 8, 2013
8:30 AM
Neural Prosthesis Seminar
“Emerging Translational Tools for the Exploration and Potential Treatment of Neurological Disease”

Biomedical Research Building 105
Case Western Reserve University

Timothy Denison, PhD
Director of Neural Engineering and Technical Fellow, Medtronic

This talk will present reflections on the design challenges and potential opportunities of building translational tools to interface with the nervous system. The current state of device-based neural interfacing can be cast in a dynamic control intelligent agent framework such that the nervous system is the environment, the neural stimulator is the actuator, tools to collect clinical data are the sensors, and the physician’s judgment is the state estimator and control policy. This model helps to frame the types of opportunities available to advance neuromodulation the treatment of disease by modulating neural information flow.

In particular, technology can potentially address two factors limiting the performance of current systems: “observability,” the ability to classify the state of the physiological system from sensor measurements, and “controllability,” the ability to steer the system to a desirable state using some form of physiological actuation. To address these factors, the field needs to create novel sensors, actuation methods, and algorithms and then synthesize them together. However, technology alone is probably not enough to fully address unmet needs; hardware innovations must be combined with better understanding the fundamental neural processes underlying disease, which is currently an evolving science.

From this perspective, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities of designing translational technology for interfacing with and studying the nervous system. By designing flexible systems to explore a broad set of physiological questions, we have an opportunity to cross-leverage scientific know-how across multiple biomedical applications. Examples of synergy will be taken from work in several animal models that highlight how novel research instrumentation is starting to help answer key questions about the dynamics of the nervous system relevant to chronic disease. A case
study from a recently released responsive stimulator for chronic pain will illustrate the translation of these technology concepts to clinic.

For more information, please contact Cheryl Dudek at (216) 231-3257.

Live stream video link for each lecture at

Download Flyer



Electrochemical Measurement Workshop
August 6-10, 2012

See Flyer



Tuesday, November 1, 2011
3:00 pm
Wickenden, Room 525

PhD Defense of Yuang (David) Tang

"Methods for the Detection and Suppression of Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy"

Epilepsy is a complex neurological disease that affects more than 50 million people worldwide. Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is the most common and refractory form of epilepsy. Patients diagnosed with MTLE often experience status epilepticus during infancy. It is postulated that this initial trauma is the root cause of MTLE development later in life. In this study, we present potential new therapies for the treatment of MTLE. First, we present a novel low frequency electrical stimulation paradigm, as a possible therapeutic treatment, for status epilepticus originating from the hippocampus as well as MTLE seizures. The paradigm utilizes the hippocampal commissure, as a unique stimulation target, to simultaneously influence large portions of the bilateral hippocampal network. In order to assess the efficacy of the proposed stimulation paradigm, an acute rat model of MTLE status epilepticus is developed, using bilateral micro-injections 4-Aminopyridine into the hippocampal structure. In animals that received stimulation, an 88% reduction in the powers of the bilateral epileptiform activity is achieved when compared to the control group. In addition, the stimulation paradigm is also shown to entrain the hippocampal network’s spontaneous epileptiform activity and disrupt the synchrony between the epileptiform activity within two sides of the hippocampi. In conclusion, the proposed electrical stimulation paradigm shows promise both as a novel treatment for status epilepticus during infancy as well as for adult patients suffering from recurrent MTLE seizures. Along with the low frequency stimulation paradigm, we also present a automated seizure detection algorithm utilizing an assembly of Support Vector Machines (SVM). An effective automated seizure detector can reduce the significant human resources necessary for the care of patients suffering from intractable epilepsy and offer improved solutions for closed-loop therapeutic devices such as implantable electrical stimulation systems. While numerous detection algorithms have been published, an effective detector in the clinical setting remains elusive. There are significant challenges facing seizure detection algorithms. The epilepsy EEG morphology can vary widely among the patient population. EEG recordings from the same patient can change over time. EEG recordings can be contaminated with artifacts that often resemble epileptic seizure activity. In order for an epileptic seizure detector to be successful, it must be able to adapt to these different challenges. In this study, a novel detector is proposed based on a support vector machine assembly classifier (SVMA). The SVMA consists of a group of SVMs each trained with a different set of weights between the seizure and non-seizure data and the user can selectively control the output of the SVMA classifier. The algorithm can improve the detection performance compared to traditional methods by providing an effective tuning strategy for specific patients. The proposed algorithm also demonstrates a clear advantage over threshold tuning. When compared with the detection performances reported by other studies using the publicly available epilepsy dataset hosted by the University of BONN, the proposed SVMA detector achieved the best total accuracy of 98.72%. These results demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed SVMA detector and its potential in the clinical setting.


Wednesday, October 27, 2011
4:00 pm
2013 Cornell Road
The Iris S. and Bert L. Wolstein Research Building

Celebrate the appointment of

Dominique M. Durand, Ph.D.
Elmer Lincoln Lindseth Professor in Biomedical Engineering
Erin B. Lavik, Sc.D.
Elmer Lincoln Lindseth Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering


Monday, August 29, 2011
3:00 pm
Wickenden, Room 525

PhD Defense of Christa W. Moss

“Investigation of Below Lesion Musle Signals as a Command Source for a Neuroprosthesis”
Advisor: P. Hunter Peckham

The objective of this project is to investigate muscle signals from below the injury level in individuals with motor complete spinal cord injury. Implanted neuroprostheses use functional electrical stimulation to restore function to individuals with spinal cord injury. A command signal is required to control each restored function. Currently, muscle signals from above the injury are used as a command source. As neuroprostheses advance in complexity, more command signals will be required to control the additional functions. Thus, this project was designed to evaluate potential sources of additional command information.

Although visual movement is not present in muscles below the injury level in the motor complete SCI population, it is possible to detect volitional electromyographic (EMG) activity in some muscles. Results discussed here indicate that training with visual feedback may improve the amplitude and reliability of small muscle signals. Additionally, a proof of concept demonstration showed that clinically paralyzed muscles are a viable option for use as a command signal for an implanted, upper extremity neuroprosthesis.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011
12:00 Noon
Nord Hall, Room 400

PhD Defense of Andy Cornwell

"Command of a Multiple Degree-of-Freedom Arm With Functional Electrical Stimulation Using a Simple Set of Commands"
Advisor: Robert Kirsch

This project demonstrates a method to provide commands to an FES-enabled arm when the set of available commands is fewer than those needed to control the system. Although no treatment or cure for spinal cord injury (SCI) currently exists, there are rehabilitative technologies that provide increased levels of independence. Because the injury to the spinal cord largely spares damage to the peripheral nervous system and muscles, it is often possible to electrically stimulate paralyzed peripheral nerves and artificially initiate the original function of those nerves. This technique is called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), and it can be used to restore motor function by stimulating the motor nerves. If the nerves are stimulated in carefully orchestrated patterns, it is possible to restore functional movements.

An advanced neuroprosthesis is under development in our laboratory to restore arm function to individuals with high-cervical level SCI, where users have complete paralysis of the entire arm. This system will use several novel techniques to overcome the inherent difficulties of providing a complete system to a user with no control of his arms or hands. For example, a new command source will be used because the retained functions available for delivering commands are very limited. Promising options include face and neck EMG signals, or signals recorded from the brain. Currently, these command sources are capable of robustly producing two or three continuous commands. However, to position the arm and hand in space requires specifying the position of each joint in the arm, which implies at least seven mechanical degrees of freedom.

The goal of this project is to develop a “command map,” the mathematical relationship that extracts the user’s intent from the available command source, and maps this information to arm joint angles so the FES controller can determine appropriate levels of stimulation for executing the intended movement. We obtained this command map by using the Principal Components Analysis (PCA) of able-bodied individuals performing a carefully selected set of daily living tasks. This work details the importance and selection of those daily living tasks, identifies high levels of repeatable correlation in joint angles during everyday movements, and then demonstrates the controllability of a virtual arm by able-bodied users using the PCA-based command map.


Friday, April 22, 2011
2:00 PM
Wickenden 322

Srikantan Nagarajan, PhD
Director, Biomagnetic Imaging Laboratory
Professor in Residence
UCSF School

"Multiple time-scales of brain plasticity assessed by Electromagnetic Brain Imaging"

Friday, February 11, 2011
8:30 AM
Biomedical Research Building (BRB) Rm. 105
Case Western Reserve University

Neural Prosthesis Seminar

Ranu Jung, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Collge of Engneering and Computing
Florida International University, Miami FL
"Neuromorphic Design & Neural Prostheses for Restoring Sensorimotor Function"

Abstract: Engineering techniques can play a role in understanding biological systems, mimicking biological processes, and intervening to restore function after trauma. Computational models allow us to investigate the underlying mechanisms for neural control as well as the adaptive or maladaptive biological processes. Such models can be used to design neuromorphic technology that mimics biological systems. Neural prostheses, incorporating neuromorphic approaches into system design can be used to interact with the nervous system. This talk will present some of our work in using neural models, designing neuromorphic systems and developing neural prostheses, as well as provide an overview of an on-going project that is developing and implementing a novel neural prosthesis directed at improving the functionality of artificial limbs by providing sensory feedback to the user.

This seminar will be streamed live starting at 8:30 AM EST on Friday, February 11 at:

For more information, please contact Cathy Naples at (216) 707-6490.


Friday, January 21, 2011
8:30 AM
Biomedical Research Building (BRB) Rm. 105
Case Western Reserve University

Neural Prosthesis Seminar

Dominique Durand, PhD
E.L. Lindseth Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Neuroscience, Physiology and Biophysics
Director of Neural Engineering Center
Case Western Reserve University

"Interfacing with the Peripheral Nervous System to Detect Movement Intent"

Abstract: Neural engineers have made significant breakthrough in several areas such as the brain machine interface for locked-in patients, the retinal prosthesis for blind patients and deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s patients. In this presentation I will focus on neural interfacing with the peripheral nervous system. In particular, I will present the development of an electrode capable of selective fascicle recording. The recorded signals can then be processed to detect of the intent of the patient and applied to the control of prosthetics devices such as artificial limbs in patients with amputation or stroke.

This seminar will be streamed live starting at 8:30 AM EST on Friday, January 21st at:

For more information, please contact Cathy Naples at (216) 707-6490.


Friday, December 10, 2010
8:30 AM
Biomedical Research Building (BRB) Rm. 105
Case Western Reserve University

Neural Prosthesis Seminar

Heidi B. Martin, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Case Western Reserve University

"Conductive Diamond for Implantable Neurological Devices"

Abstract: Robust implantable electrodes enable functional electrical stimulation and neurosensing technologies and expand their benefits to applications in human health. Conductive diamond provides the opportunity to integrate sensing and stimulation in the same robust device. Diamond stimulators may operate while avoiding tissue and electrode damage. Diamond sensors could be used to examine new neurochemistries and detect lower analyte concentrations. This presentation focuses on diamond-film electrode development and application in tissue for (a) stimulation of neural activity, and (b) detection of neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, and electrical activity. Unique fabrication and materials integration approaches to render the electrodes flexible will be presented.

This seminar will be streamed live starting at 8:30 AM EST on Friday, December 10th at:

For more information, please contact Cathy Naples at (216) 707-6490.


Friday, November 12, 2010
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Biomedical Research Building (BRB) Rm. 105
Case Western Reserve University

Neural Prosthesis Seminar

Michael Goldfarb, Ph.D.
H. Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University

“New Horizons in Upper and Lower Extremity Prosthetics” [download flyer]

Abstract: Recent advances in robotics technology have brought to the near horizon significantly enhanced functionality in both lower and upper extremity prostheses. Specifically, such advances now enable fully powered artificial legs and multi-fingered hands capable of multiple grasps and postures. Traditional user interfaces are inadequate to fully access the enhanced capabilities of such prostheses, and as such, the development of new, considerably more capable user interfaces are needed. This talk will describe emerging capabilities in both lower and upper extremity prostheses, and will also discuss issues related to the user interface of both.

Sponsored by the Cleveland FES Center and the APT Center.

Live stream video link for this lecture starting at 8:30 AM on 11/12/10 will be at:


Friday, October 15, 2010
8:30 AM
Case Western Reserve University
Biomedical Research Building (BRB) Room 105

Speaker: Mark S. Humayun, MD, PhD
Professor of Ophthalmology, Biomedical Engineering and Cell &
Neurobiology, Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California

Topic: Interim Performance Results from the Second Sight© Argus™ II Retinal Prosthesis Study.

For more information contact Cathy Naples (216) 707-6490


Friday, September 17, 2010
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Case Western Reserve University
Biomedical Research Building (BRB) Room 105

This seminar will not be web streamed

Speaker: Bijan Pesaran, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neural Science
Center for Neural Science
New York University

Title: "The Promise of Local Field Potentials for Neuroscience and Neural Engineering"

Abstract: The study of the brain is enjoying an era of growth with dramatic advances in our knowledge of the link between brain and behavior. Research is leading to a better scientific understanding of how the brain controls behavior and is opening up translational opportunities to engineer devices that replace lost brain function. Our understanding of brain mechanisms is largely based on the spiking activity of individual neurons. In this talk, I will argue that an exclusive focus on spiking activity hampers both basic neuroscience and neural engineering. I will develop a complementary approach involving local field potentials (LFPs), electrical potentials generated by populations of neurons. I propose that LFPs show promise in two specific areas. Local field potentials can improve our scientific understanding of how different brain areas communicate with each other during behavior and can accelerate the development of robust high-performance neural interfaces that replace lost brain function.

IEEE_EMBS Forum on Grand Challenges in Neuroengineering

May 7th-May 8th, 2010

Fourth International Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Meeting
May 31 to June 4, 2010
The meeting will take place at the Asilomar Conference Center on the Monterey Peninsula, part of the California State Park System. The conference center, which constitutes the largest collection of Arts and Crafts-style buildings in one location, is a National Historic Landmark

39th Neural Interfaces Conference

Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach CA
June 21-23, 2010