Brain sensors go wireless in Brown University study

This transmitter weighs only 46.1 grams but can transmit data at up to 200 megabits per second.--Courtesy of Brown University

Scientists at Brown University have developed a high-data-rate, low-power wireless brain sensor. They published data testing the wireless sensor in the latest issue of the journal Neuron. The researchers expect that these sensors could lead to new and unique patient data collection since subjects needn't remain tethered by cables.

The system includes a 5-centimeter transmitter that connects to a tiny implanted electrode array via a small port. It detects the activity of neurons in the cortex and can be used with many types and classes of brain sensors. It sends signals to a four-antenna receiver that resembles a home Wi-Fi router.

The study showed that the transmitter can run continuously, delivering a high rate of data from the brain for more than 48 hours on a single rechargeable AA battery.

"We view this as a platform device for tapping into the richness of electrical signals from the brain among animal models where their neural circuit activity reflects entirely volitional and naturalistic behavior, not constrained to particular space," said Arto Nurmikko, a professor of engineering and physics affiliated with the Brown Institute for Brain Science and the paper's senior and corresponding author.

"This enables new types of neuroscience experiments with vast amounts of brain data wirelessly and continuously streamed from brain microcircuits," he added. The same team unveiled a similar sensor with a different design last year.

Blackrock Microsystems has licensed a portion of the technology from Brown University for commercial development.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the EU funded the research.

- here is the release
- read the research abstract

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