A Brain to Spine Interface for Transferring Artificial Sensory Information.
Lack of sensory feedback is a major obstacle in the rapid absorption of prosthetic devices by the brain. While electrical stimulation of cortical and subcortical structures provides unique means to deliver sensory information to higher brain structures, these approaches require highly invasive surgery and are dependent on accurate targeting of brain structures. Here, we propose a semi-invasive method, Dorsal Column Stimulation (DCS) as a tool for transferring sensory information to the brain. Using this new approach, we show that rats can learn to discriminate artificial sensations generated by DCS and that DCS-induced learning results in corticostriatal plasticity. We also demonstrate a proof of concept brain-to-spine interface (BTSI), whereby tactile and artificial sensory information are decoded from the brain of an "encoder" rat, transformed into DCS pulses, and delivered to the spinal cord of a second "decoder" rat while the latter performs an analog-to-digital conversion during a sensory discrimination task. These results suggest that DCS can be used as an effective sensory channel to transmit prosthetic information to the brain or between brains, and could be developed as a novel platform for delivering tactile and proprioceptive feedback in clinical applications of brain-machine interfaces.
Yadav, AP; Li, D; Nicolelis, MAL
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