Grant to develop fully implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) technology

Patients with motor neuron disorders, trauma or stroke are at risk of losing complete control of their muscles

The research consortium led by the UMC Utrecht Brain Center has received support of nearly €6 million from the European Innovation Council. With the money, researchers want to develop a fully implantable brain-computer interface (BCI) technology for people with LIS. LIS is a condition in which paralysis severely limits communication, for example due to ALS. The brain-computer interfaces that the consortium wants to develop could decode speech in real time and thus help LIS patients break out of isolation.

Patients with motor neuron disorders, trauma or stroke are at risk of losing complete control of their muscles. This leads to LIS, in which people become completely paralyzed and unable to communicate while they are still conscious. “It’s of course a painfully frightening situation,” said lead researcher Nick Ramsey. “Patients’ quality of life is poor and the condition presents a heavy burden of care – not only for patients, but also for family and caregivers.”

BCIs . implantation
The research project “Intracranial Neurotelemetry for Restoration of Connectivity” (for acronym: INTRECOM) aims to bring LIS patients out of their isolation. The partnership aims to achieve this by developing and testing a new fully implantable brain and computer interface technology on two people: one in Utrecht and the other in Graz. The new BCIs should enable in-house, real-time speech decoding. “Our BCI system will go beyond current technology,” Ramsay said. “We want to create a sustainable, high-fidelity BCI by combining the latest hardware and software based on artificial intelligence (AI).”

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UMC Utrecht (RIBS Lab) is the secretary of this new project. The research group cooperates with Graz University of Technology (Austria), and Wyss Center for Bioengineering and Neuroscience (Switzerland) and Cortic Neuro (Germany).

About the EIC Pathfinder Challenge
Through the EIC Pathfinder Challenge, the European Innovation Council supports visionary and entrepreneurial researchers with bold ideas for radically new technologies. Partnerships supported by the program generally fall into the high-risk/high-reward category. Projects generally include consortia of researchers and other partners from at least three different countries, but there are also funding opportunities for individual teams and smaller consortia of two partners.

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Name of author and/or editor by: UMC Utrecht
Photographer or photographic agency: INGImages
The source of this article: UMC Utrecht
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original title: Brain-computer interfaces for paralyzed people
the target audience: Healthcare professionals and students
Date: 2022-04-09

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