Miguel A Nicolelis
Duke School of Medicine Professor in Neuroscience
Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., is the Duke School of Medicine Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, Duke University Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering and Psychology and Neuroscience, and founder of Duke's Center for Neuroengineering. He is the founder and Scientific Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal. Dr. Nicolelis is also founder of the Walk Again Project, an international consortium of scientists and engineers, dedicated to the development of an exoskeleton device to assist severely paralyzed patients in regaining full body mobility.
Dr. Nicolelis has dedicated his career to investigate how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. As a result of his studies, Dr. Nicolelis was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).
Over the past 25 years, Dr. Nicolelis pioneered and perfected the development of a new neurophysiological method, known today as chronic, multi-site, multi-electrode recordings. Using this approach in a variety of animal species, as well as in intra-operative procedures in human patients, Dr. Nicolelis launched a new field of investigation, which aims at measuring the concurrent activity and interactions of large populations of single neurons throughout the brain. Through his work, Dr. Nicolelis has discovered a series of key physiological principles that govern the operation of mammalian brain circuits.
Dr. Nicolelis pioneering BMI studies have become extremely influential since they offer new potential therapies for patients suffering from severe levels of paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Today, numerous neuroscience laboratories in the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America have incorporated Dr. Nicolelis' experimental paradigm to study a variety of mammalian neuronal systems. His research has influenced basic and applied research in computer science, robotics, and biomedical engineering.
Appointments and Affiliations
- Duke School of Medicine Professor in Neuroscience
- Professor of Neurobiology
- Professor in the Department of Neurology
- Professor in Neurosurgery
- Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience
- Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
- Office Location: GSRBII 210 Research Drive, Box 103905 Room 4028, Durham, NC 27710
- Office Phone: (919) 684-4580
- Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ph.D. University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), 1988
- M.D. University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), 1984
Dr. Nicolelis investigates how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. He was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).
Awards, Honors, and Distinctions
- AAAS Fellow. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2004
- NEUROBIO 393: Research Independent Study
- NEUROBIO 793: Research in Neurobiology
In the News
- Monkeys' Brains Synchronize As They Collaborate To Perform A Motor Task (Mar 29, 2018 | Duke Health News)
- Brain-Machine Interface Helps Patients With Severe Spinal Cord Injuries Restore Some Mobility (Nov 8, 2016 | Clinical Practice Today)
- Robotics help paraplegics regain movement, Duke scientist says (Aug 12, 2016 | The News & Observer)
- Breakthrough for paralyzed patients (Aug 12, 2016 | CBS News)
- Paraplegics moving again years after spinal cord injuries (Aug 11, 2016 | CNN)
- Robot-like machines helped people with spinal injuries regain function (Aug 11, 2016 | NPR)
- Paraplegics Take a Step to Regain Movement (Aug 10, 2016)
- Could we soon have superhero night vision? (Mar 17, 2016 | The Daily Mail)
- Macacos conduzem cadeiras de rodas usando apenas seus pensamentos (Mar 9, 2016)
- Monkeys with implants control devices with their minds (Mar 4, 2016 | CBS News)
- To help quadriplegics, monkeys navigate a wheelchair with their minds (Mar 4, 2016 | Los Angeles Times)
- Monkeys Drive Wheelchairs Using Their Thoughts (Mar 4, 2016)
- Monkeys are taught to 'drive' wheelchairs using just their thoughts (Mar 3, 2016 | The Daily Mail)
- Monkeys move robotic wheelchairs with their thoughts (Mar 3, 2016 | U.S. News & World Report, HealthDay)
- Dr. Miguel Nicolelis: Why brain scientists should fail (Dec 16, 2015 | Foreign Policy)
- How neuroscientists built a monkey brainet (Dec 2, 2015 | Wired)
- 2015 Global Thinkers – Dr. Miguel Nicolelis (Dec 2, 2015 | Foreign Policy Magazine)
- Book Review: “The Brain Electric” (Nov 2, 2015 | Scientific American MIND)
- Brain implant lets rats 'see' infrared light (Oct 22, 2015 | Science Now)
- Dr. Miguel Nicolelis comments: Watch how new technology helps a paraplegic man walk again (Sep 24, 2015 | ABC News)
- Can we create an artificial brain? Dr. Miguel Nicolelis thinks it's dangerous to even try (Sep 16, 2015 | The Huffington Post)
- This is your brain. This is your brain as a weapon (Sep 15, 2015 | Foreign Policy)
- Pushing the limits: Merging the power of multiple brains (Sep 15, 2015 | "CBS This Morning")
- Neuroscientists establish brain-to-brain networks in primates, rodents (Jul 13, 2015)
- Duke scientists link brains of living rats (Jul 10, 2015 | The News & Observer)
- Monkey 'brain net' raises prospect of human brain-to-brain connection (Jul 10, 2015 | The Guardian)
- Scientists demonstrate animal mind-melds (Jul 9, 2015 | The New York Times)
- Monkeys steer wheelchairs with their brains, raising hope for paralyzed people (Nov 19, 2014 | National Geographic)
- Nicolelis, MAL, Brain-machine interfaces to restore motor function and probe neural circuits., Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, vol 4 no. 5 (2003), pp. 417-422 [10.1038/nrn1105] [abs].
- Nicolelis, MAL, The amazing adventures of robotrat., Trends Cogn Sci, vol 6 no. 11 (2002), pp. 449-450 [10.1016/s1364-6613(02)01991-5] [abs].
- Nicolelis, MAL; Ribeiro, S, Multielectrode recordings: the next steps., Current Opinion in Neurobiology, vol 12 no. 5 (2002), pp. 602-606 [10.1016/s0959-4388(02)00374-4] [abs].
- Nicolelis, MAL; Chapin, JK, Controlling robots with the mind., Scientific American, vol 287 no. 4 (2002), pp. 46-53 [10.1038/scientificamerican1002-46] [abs].
- Katz, DB; Nicolelis, MAL; Simon, SA, Gustatory processing is dynamic and distributed., Current Opinion in Neurobiology, vol 12 no. 4 (2002), pp. 448-454 [10.1016/s0959-4388(02)00341-0] [abs].
- Nicolelis, MAL; Fanselow, EE, Thalamocortical [correction of Thalamcortical] optimization of tactile processing according to behavioral state., Nature Neuroscience, vol 5 no. 6 (2002), pp. 517-523 [10.1038/nn0602-517] [abs].
- Nicolelis, MAL, Depression at thalamocortical synapses: the key for cortical neuronal adaptation?, Neuron, vol 34 no. 3 (2002), pp. 331-332 [10.1016/s0896-6273(02)00691-8] [abs].
- Katz, DB; Simon, SA; Nicolelis, MAL, Taste-specific neuronal ensembles in the gustatory cortex of awake rats., Journal of Neuroscience, vol 22 no. 5 (2002), pp. 1850-1857 [abs].
- Shuler, MG; Krupa, DJ; Nicolelis, MAL, Integration of bilateral whisker stimuli in rats: role of the whisker barrel cortices., Cerebral Cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991), vol 12 no. 1 (2002), pp. 86-97 [10.1093/cercor/12.1.86] [abs].
- Fanselow, EE; Sameshima, K; Baccala, LA; Nicolelis, MA, Thalamic bursting in rats during different awake behavioral states., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 98 no. 26 (2001), pp. 15330-15335 [10.1073/pnas.261273898] [abs].
- Das, A; Franca, JG; Gattass, R; Kaas, JH; Nicolelis, MA; Timo-Iaria, C; Vargas, CD; Weinberger, NM; Volchan, E, The brain decade in debate: VI. Sensory and motor maps: dynamics and plasticity., Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research = Revista Brasileira De Pesquisas Medicas E Biologicas, vol 34 no. 12 (2001), pp. 1497-1508 [10.1590/s0100-879x2001001200001] [abs].
- Ghazanfar, AA; Krupa, DJ; Nicolelis, MA, Role of cortical feedback in the receptive field structure and nonlinear response properties of somatosensory thalamic neurons., Experimental Brain Research, vol 141 no. 1 (2001), pp. 88-100 [10.1007/s002210100849] [abs].
- Kralik, JD; Dimitrov, DF; Krupa, DJ; Katz, DB; Cohen, D; Nicolelis, MA, Techniques for long-term multisite neuronal ensemble recordings in behaving animals., Methods (San Diego, Calif.), vol 25 no. 2 (2001), pp. 121-150 [10.1006/meth.2001.1231] [abs].
- Krupa, DJ; Matell, MS; Brisben, AJ; Oliveira, LM; Nicolelis, MA, Behavioral properties of the trigeminal somatosensory system in rats performing whisker-dependent tactile discriminations., Journal of Neuroscience, vol 21 no. 15 (2001), pp. 5752-5763 [abs].
- Shuler, MG; Krupa, DJ; Nicolelis, MA, Bilateral integration of whisker information in the primary somatosensory cortex of rats., Journal of Neuroscience, vol 21 no. 14 (2001), pp. 5251-5261 [abs].
- Katz, DB; Simon, SA; Nicolelis, MA, Dynamic and multimodal responses of gustatory cortical neurons in awake rats., Journal of Neuroscience, vol 21 no. 12 (2001), pp. 4478-4489 [abs].
- Ghazanfar, AA; Nicolelis, MA, Feature article: the structure and function of dynamic cortical and thalamic receptive fields., Cerebral Cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991), vol 11 no. 3 (2001), pp. 183-193 [10.1093/cercor/11.3.183] [abs].
- Krupa, DJ; Brisben, AJ; Nicolelis, MA, A multi-channel whisker stimulator for producing spatiotemporally complex tactile stimuli., Journal of Neuroscience Methods, vol 104 no. 2 (2001), pp. 199-208 [10.1016/s0165-0270(00)00345-9] [abs].
- Nicolelis, MA; Shuler, M, Thalamocortical and corticocortical interactions in the somatosensory system., Progress in Brain Research, vol 130 (2001), pp. 90-110 [abs].