Scientists of the “Sensor-motor and plasticity treatment” team of the NeuroPSI Institute, have looked into how tactile information could be provided to the user of a prosthesis by directly “writing” this information on the structure at the surface of the brain: the cortex.
To this aim, they have connected laboratory mice to a brain-machine interface, which the mice used to perform a simple behavior. In order to carry out this behavior, the mice were helped by a flow of information transmitted by a direct activation of their sensory cortex via an optical method, called “optogenetic”.
The researchers found that this information was indeed taken into account by the mice to carry out their behavior, but only if it was “written” on the cortex in a coherent way, both spatially and temporally. By revealing precise constraints concerning the possible structure of a cortical return, these experiences tell us about physiological properties of the brain. Before being able to design neuroprothses with a rich sensory return, it will be necessary to obtain a more complete description of these new properties. Study published in the journal Science Advances.
Brain-machine interface learning is facilitated by specific patterning of distributed cortical feedback.
Aamir Abbasi, Henri Lassagne, Luc Estebanez, Dorian Goueytes, Daniel E. Shulz, Valerie Ego-Stengel.