Stony Brook Mind/Brain Lecture Series


16th Annual Lecture


Guest Lecturer:

John Donoghue, PhD, MS

Professor, Neuroscience

Providence VA Medical Center and Institute for Brain Science

Brown University


The Human Neural Interface: Restoring Function by Merging Brain and Technology  


View the video of the 2012 Mind/Brain Lecture with John Donoghue, PhD (via YouTube)

Monday, April 16, 2012
4:30 PM
Staller Center for the Arts, Main Stage
Stony Brook University (Main Campus)
Stony Brook, NY

Directions to Stony Brook University: (for the closest public parking, use the Administration Parking Garage)


A free presentation, intended for a general audience.


Lecture Abstract:

Neurotechnology to treat brain disorders or to restore lost function is emerging at a rapid pace. Deep brain stimulators, which adjust abnormal neural circuits using electrical stimulation, have helped to remove the shaking and rigidity of Parkinson’s disease in more than 80,000 people.  Stimulation is also being used to restore lost vision and hearing.  In addition to ‘writing in’ signals to the nervous system, it is also becoming possible to ‘read out’ detailed information from the brain in order to restore the ability to move.  My laboratory is developing a neural interface system, called BrainGate, that provides a new connection from the brain to the outside world for people who have lost that connection from a stroke, spinal cord injury or disease. BrainGate consists of a tiny sensor implanted in the motor cortex. The sensor detects patterns of neural activity that reflect the person’s motor intentions. These patterns can be converted into movement command signals, so that a person who is paralyzed can directly control devices like a computer or a robotic arm. BrainGate, now in a pilot human clinical trial, has been tested in people who have longstanding, severe paralysis and have lost use of their arms. In our initial studies these participants have been able to move a computer cursor, for example to play a video game, and operate a robotic limb by imagining their own arm’s actions. I will explain how it is possible to detect and decode motor signals from the human brain and will discuss the future implications of neurotechnology that can read out or write into brain circuitry. Finally, I will also discuss what we are learning about human brain function by being able to observe its activity at a resolution never before achieved. 




Additional Resources:


John Donoghue, PhD, MS – Research


Event home pages:

The Swartz Foundation – Mind/Brain Lecture Series Home Page


Stony Brook University Mind/Brain Lecture Series Home Page




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