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DARPA Taps CMU to Develop Noninvasive Brain Interface

Jeff Brody

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded a $19.4 million grant to Carnegie Mellon University for the design of a wearable neural interface. The university said Friday it will design the noninvasive device to record and stimulate neural dynamic activity as part of DARPA's next-generation-nonsurgical-neurotechnology program.

The device would produce recordings with high temporal and spatial resolution without requiring surgical insertion. The effort would address the need for neural circuit access that researchers require for brain function studies. The resulting device may also aid in the development of treatments against neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's.

"One of the most fundamental challenges of almost all existing noninvasive methods is the dispersion of electrical signals and optical or ultrasonic waves as they propagate through the brain tissue and get scattered," said Maysam Chamanzar, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at CMU.

"We are harnessing the complexities of the physics and biology associated with this problem in order to improve the spatial and temporal resolution of measuring and stimulating the brain," said CMU ECE associate professor Pulkit Grover who leads the team. The effort builds on years of studies conducted by Grover's team.

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