The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has developed a proof-of-concept instrument in an effort to leverage both electrical and optical approaches to stimulate and study the brain’s neural network activity.
DARPA said Monday it partnered with the University of Wisconsin at Madison to create a graphene-based tool as part of the agency’s Reliable Neural-Interface Technology program.
Graphene works to help with near-transparent contacts through electrically conductive sensors and to combine both electrical and optical methods for visualizations and measurements of neuronal signals.
“The ability to simultaneously measure electrical activity on a large and fast scale with direct visualization and modulation of neuronal network anatomy could provide unprecedented insight into relationships between brain structure and function—and importantly, how these relationships evolve over time or are perturbed by injury or disease,” said Doug Weber, DARPA program manager.
DARPA and UW-Madison also utilized super-resolved fluorescent microscopy and optogenetics for the technology demonstration.
The RE-NET program aims to explore neurotechnologies in order to solve neural failure mechanisms and to understand the relationship between neural signals and brain activity, DARPA said.
“This knowledge could greatly aid how we understand and treat brain injury and disease,” Weber added.