Mechanical engineering professor Kee Moon, Ph.D., leads SDSU’s Engineering Research Center, here he works with colleagues and students to perfect brain-controlled bionics.
Today’s prosthetics contain sensors that understand the intentions of the muscles, but tomorrow’s versions will read the intentions of the mind, Moon said. Implantable sensors will enable new-generation prosthetics to substitute for damaged or missing nerves by transmitting information between the brain and injured muscles or robotic devices.
To invent brain-controlled sensors, the SDSU researchers will first need to construct a mathematical model of brain function.
“We want to achieve a deep mathematical understanding of how biological systems acquire and process information and use that knowledge to reverse engineer the nervous system’s sensorimotor functions,” Moon said. “That will allow us to develop engineering models for devices integrated with the body to correct neural deficits and boost neural capabilities.”
Eventually, Moon wants to take the research further by creating devices that allow people to accomplish rehabilitation from home or another convenient location and transmit the results electronically to a medical practitioner.