December 1, 2023

Functional ultrasound offers less invasive option for people with paralysis

Editor's Note

Functional ultrasound has been shown to be a promising alternative to brain-machine-interface (BMI) devices to read neural activity and assist people with paralysis. These findings were published by Nature Neuroscience on November 30. 

BMIs typically require invasive surgical procedures to implant the electrodes into the brain. While these electrodes can measure the activity of single neurons, they are difficult to use for more than a few small brain regions. 

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) provides whole-brain access and can work as an "online" BMI—reading brain activity, deciphering its meaning with AI, and controlling a computer to accurately predict movement with minimal delay time.

For the study, researchers trained monkeys to control up to eight movement directions using the BMI. These findings point to the possibility of ultrasonic BMIs serving as an important tool in guiding less-invasive movement restoration in people with neurological impairments and paralysis.


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