Neural engineering research at Duke focuses upon developing new tools and methods to enable fundamental research on the nervous system, as well as treatments for neurological disorders. Specifically, we conduct research on novel neural technologies that can interact with the brain on a much finer scale and with greater coverage than previously possible, using both electrical and optical measurements.
Research in neural engineering has strengths in the development of novel neural technologies such as brain machine interfaces, neural prostheses and implantable devices for the treatment of neurological disorders. In addition, system-level computational modeling and imaging techniques provide key insights into the function of the nervous system in both health and disease.
Current research activity includes deep brain stimulation for the treatment of motor disorders, electrical stimulation for the restoration of bladder function, and electrical stimulation for restoration of multi-joint motor function (e.g., reaching). We develop novel electrode arrays that can record and stimulate large areas of the surface of the brain and high resolution, data acquisition systems to wirelessly interface these devices with remote systems, and genetically encoded sensors to record and stimulate the brain using light. These tools and others are applied to understand how large populations of neurons can efficiently communicate information and how communication pathways can be dynamically re-configured. This work is conducted in the context of spatial and emotional memory and decision making and is aimed at the treatment of learning deficits and memory disorders.
Neural engineering research at Duke involves a variety of in vitro, in vivo and computational modeling techniques that bridge knowledge of the detailed biophysical mechanisms of single neurons with the study of their activity at the population level. Researchers in neural engineering have extensive collaborations with the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Duke University School of Medicine departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Radiology, and the interdepartmental program in Neurobiology.