The body of knowledge about the human brain is growing exponentially, but questions big and small remain unanswered. Researchers have been using electrode arrays to map electrical activity in different brain regions to understand brain function. Until now, however, these arrays have only been able to detect activity over a certain frequency threshold. A new technology developed in Barcelona overcomes this technical limitation, unlocking the wealth of information found below 0.1 Hz and paving the way for future brain-computer interfaces.
Developed at the Barcelona Microelectronics Institute (IMB-CNM, CSIC), the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and the CIBER in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN), and adapted for brain recordings in collaboration with the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), the technology moves away from electrodes and uses an innovative transistor-based architecture that amplifies the brain’s signals in situ before transmitting them to a receiver. Furthermore, the use of graphene to build this new architecture means the resulting implant can support many more recording sites than a standard electrode array; it is also slim and flexible enough to be used over large areas of the cortex without being rejected or interfering with normal brain function. The result is an unprecedented mapping of the kind of low-frequency brain activity known to carry crucial information about events in the brain such as the onset and progression of epileptic seizures and strokes.
Neurologists now have access to previously inaccessible brain activity. Prof. Matthew Walker, of University College London and world specialist in clinical epilepsy, has called it a groundbreaking technology with the potential to change the way researchers record and view brain electrical activity. Future applications include unprecedented insights into where and how seizures begin and end, enabling new approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.
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About the National Graphene Association (NGA)
The National Graphene Association is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene. NGA is focused on addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene based materials globally. NGA brings together current and future graphene stakeholders — entrepreneurs, companies, researchers, developers and suppliers, investors, venture capitalists and government agencies — to drive innovation, and to promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies.