Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) change how the brain sends and receives information from the environment, opening new ways to treat neurological disorders and study brain function. For instance, motor BMIs directly map neural activity to the movements of an external device to restore movements to paralyzed people. Research over the last several decades has shown tremendous progress towards developing BMIs, but also highlights the complexity of interfaces between technology and the nervous system. In this talk, Orsborn will provide an introduction to BMIs, briefly touching on some of the key challenges in the field and the exciting new approaches we will hear about from this quarter’s speakers. Orsborn will then discuss her research that explores how to build BMI algorithms that interact with dynamic, learning brains. She will discuss the role of learning in motor BMIs and some new directions developing computational and neurophysiological tools to actively shape or “engineer” learning and influence neural activity to optimize BMI performance.
Dr. Amy Orsborn is a Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor in The University of Washington Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the UW Department of Bioengineering. She’s also a core staff scientist at the Washington National Primate Research Center. She works at the intersection of engineering and neuroscience to develop neural interfaces to restore motor function. Among her honors, she received a L’Oreal USA for Women in Science postdoctoral award, the L’Oreal USA Changing The Face of STEM award, a Google Faculty Research Award, an Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Engineering research fellowship and a pilot award from the Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Global Brain. She completed her doctoral degree at the UC Berkeley/UCSF Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering and was a postdoctoral researcher at NYU’s Center for Neural Science.