Let’s face it: UCLA is a huge research institute, so it may be difficult sometimes to find exactly the research that interests you the most. If you are looking to get involved in research involving neurotechnology, then you are in the right place! UCLA’s very own professors are doing some amazing work with neurotechnology, and below are a couple of those researchers as well as the research their lab does. Let's dive right into it!
1.) Dr. Shafali Jeste
At the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at UCLA, Dr. Shafali Jeste uses high density electroencephalograms (EEGs), which electrically image brain activity, to target brain biomarkers related to autism or other neurodevelopmental
disorders in young
children. This can help lead to a better understanding of such disorders and
improve their diagnosis and treatment. This is a great example of using neurotechnology to study and diagnose neurological disorders.
2.) Dr. Reggie Edgerton
Have you read my article on STIMO in treating paralysis? If you have, Dr. Reggie Edgerton is doing something very similar (and if you haven’t consider hopping on over and checking it out: https://www.cruxucla.com/single-post/2019/01/04/STIMO-From-Paralysis-to-Mobility). Dr. Edgerton studies the impact of electrical stimulation, via electrodes either placed onto the skin or surgically implanted, on the movement of people who have sustained critical spinal cord injuries. With this spinal cord electrical activation, Dr. Edgerton also implements particular rehabilitation treatment in order to get more effective results.
3.) Dr. Wentai Liu
Having ample experience in bioengineering, Dr. Wentai Liu uses neurotechnology in a variety of ways including in treating eyesight and cognition issues, neural interface, and the study of myocyte stem cells. He even currently collaborates with Dr. Reggie Edgerton to study the use of spinal electrical stimulation in helping paralyzed people regain movement. His lab, the Biomimetic Research Lab, currently develops retinal prosthetics to help blind people regain eyesight; his Generation II model, which was FDA approved, includes electrodes and a retina chip that effectively accomplishes this. He also is working to develop better brain imaging techniques that can more efficiently study brain functioning and disorders such as seizure and depression. Something else really interesting the Liu lab is working on is developing a way for communication between several brain-interface devices at the same time, which would allow for people to communicate with each other using only their minds, thus going one step beyond simple brain computer interface (BCI).
4.) Dr. Andrew Leuchter
We have seen some cases of neurotechnology being used in clinical trials to treat physical injuries and neurological disorders, but what about neuropsychiatric issues? Well, Dr. Andrew Leuchter is searching to apply neurotechnologies to the treatment of such issues as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such neurotechnologies include neuromodulation technology (which influence neural synaptic properties to change the way certain neurons communicate), such as Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (TNS) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TNS electrically stimulates the trigeminal nerve to influence certain areas of brain activity, and TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate brain neural cells in order to combat treatment-resistant depression. The lab also uses brain-imaging techniques, such as positron emission topography (PET) and quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG), to study such patient’s brain functioning and electrical activity. This allows the lab to develop better and more personalized forms of treatment for those suffering from treatment-resistant depression. One theme we continue to see with neurotechnology in clinical applications is that it allows for treatment to be highly personalized and specific to the patient.
5.) Dr. Nanthia Suthana
Dr. Nanthia Suthana heads the Laboratory of Neuromodulation and Neuroimaging. Dr. Suthana’s lab seeks to develop neuromodulatory techniques, which, like I said before, influence neural communication, that will restore proper cognitive functioning, such as memory and learning. This will particularly help people suffering from memory impairment. The lab uses various technology such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and intracranial recordings of electrical activity in the brain to develop such techniques.
6.) Dr. Martin Monti
The Monti Lab focuses on restoring consciousness after serious brain injury and using fMRI to study the relationship between thought and language, two of the most critical aspects of what it is to be human. With regards to the prior, the lab is attempting to develop a BCI device that can help patients in vegetative states, in which patients suffering brain injury are unaware yet awake. The goal for these BCI devices is that they will allow vegetative patients to use their minds to interact with their surroundings despite being physically unable to do so. https://montilab.psych.ucla.edu/
Remember, this list is by no means comprehensive. UCLA has a huge world of neurotechnology, and these are only a couple of the professors whose research I found interesting and relevant. You can check out this link which has videos from last year’s Neurotechnology Symposium (http://neurosurgery.ucla.edu/neurotechnology-seminar) to check out some more UCLA researchers working with neurotechnology. Also, go ahead and comment down below if you are involved in neurotechnology research and what type of work your lab does. Have a wonderful week 2 everyone!