Guangyu Xu of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is part of a team of scientists based at UMass Amherst that has been awarded a four-year, $953,300 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop miniature, implantable hardware, which can record complex brain activity in animals and analyze it in real time. See News Office release. The NSF funding is part of $16 million given to 18 cross-disciplinary projects around the country to conduct innovative research on neural and cognitive systems, thus attracting key coverage by the venerable Psychology Today.
In addition to Xu, the UMass Amherst team includes David Moorman in psychological and brain sciences, and Geng-Lin Li in biology. They work collaboratively with Ethan Meyers in statistics, from Hampshire College.
As Xu explains, “The toolbox we propose to establish in this project will offer high precision control over and recording from the neural activity in the brain of a rat or mouse, together with efficient algorithms that can analyze such activity in real time. Such capability will allow us to trace the origin of complex animal behaviors down to cellular levels.”
There are multiple valuable features to this technology, as the researchers explain, including that it is highly miniaturized, generalizable, and powerful, as the News Office release reports in detail.
“Not only will this provide us with an understanding of brain function that is more precise than what has previously been possible, it will allow us, and other researchers, to collect data with potential application to motor or cognitive diseases in humans,” Xu and Moorman say. (November 2018)