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This podcast's purpose is to bring together the field of neuroprosthetics/brain machine interfaces/brain implants in an understandable conversation about the current topics and breakthroughs.

We hope to replace needing to read scientific papers on new research in an easy to digest way.

People can share thoughts or ideas to facilitate 'idea sex' to make the field of brain implants a smaller and more personal space.

Aug 3, 2020

Dr. Patrick Ganzer is a Principal Research Scientist at Battelle. Battelle uses groundbreaking science and technology to solve the world’s most pressing issues. Their projects focus on vagus nerve stimulation, haptic feedback technologies, and helping paralyzed patients regain mobility. In this episode, Dr. Patrick Ganzer shares the incredible story of Ian Burkhart and the new developments at Battelle. 


Top three takeaways:

  1. The goal was to have the paralyzed patient, Ian Burkhart, have a chip implanted that would become active when he thought of a movement he wanted to complete. 
  2. Even with weak natural signals remaining, BCI technologies are able to pick up multiple types of information in a seemingly small area of the brain. 
  3. When vague signals of residual touch are perceived, an artificial haptic feedback is activated on the skin so that the patient can have some capacity of conscious touch. 


[0:00] Ladan introduces the episode and the guest, Patrick Ganzer. 


[3:10] Dr. Ganzer speaks about his recent publication in Cell regarding a paralyzed patient, Ian Burkhart, that they were able to give mobility to in his hands. 


[5:00] After the injury and with intense practice, there could have been plasticity in Ian's cortex such that touch and movement representations may have started to overlap.


[7:30] There can still be a faint signal recognition in the motor cortex, which hints that even a small amount of fibers can relay reasonable transmission of sensory information.


[9:30] There are weak signals that can be picked up from the somatosensory cortex next to the implant chip with regard to mood, muscle stretch, movement, and touch.


[13:25] A new project focuses on vibrotactile or a vibration intensity feedback in the bicep correlating to varying grip pressures. 


[15:40] Battelle is working on getting the haptic feedback to be incorporated into the sleeve technology in order to be able to miniaturize the system for home use. 


[17:10] Demultiplexing techniques are used to separate touch and movement signals that are occurring at the same time to power different devices. 


[21:30] While at UT Dallas, Dr. Ganzer worked on a therapy that focused on vagus nerve stimulation to help the brain grow new connections and neuro-plasticity during rehab.


[23:20] His work currently focuses on using vagus nerve stimulation to treat ischemia, a cardiovascular disease causing inadequate oxygenation. 


[26:00] A perk of being a PI at Battelle is the opportunity to develop new technologies that get made into devices rather than strictly writing papers.  


Relevant Episodes: Bolu Ajiboye, Ian Burckhart, David Friedenberg