Bernstein Sparks Workshop "Towards Long-Term Cortical Neuro-Interfaces”

From March 6th through 10th, 2013, the first Bernstein Sparks Workshop "Towards Long-Term Cortical Neuro-Interfaces” will be held at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (HWK) in Delmenhorst.

The human brain is an extremely efficient machine that can accomplish tasks that are well out of reach for computers. But what happens when the brain’s power is impaired by injuries or sickness? One potential solution is to substitute neural function with technical aids. But in reality, these technical possibilities are still far from providing a permanent, safe and broadband connection between machine and brain.

Long-term implants would allow, for example, brain activity to be observed more precisely, providing insights into the brain’s functionality. But the practical applicability, beyond basic research, is also diverse: neurological implants could make up for lost function following damage to a sensory organ; improve clinical symptoms of depression or Parkinson’s disease, for example, through stimulation; or drive prosthetics. The challenges in the implementation, however, are enormous: in addition to solid knowledge of neural processes, there are many technical requirements that must be considered, for example, biocompatibility, data analysis, and energy demands, to name a few.

Internationally renowned experts in the fields of neuroscience and engineering will present the latest research results in this workshop. For example, Prof. Andrew Schwarz (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) will report on direct control of neuroprosthetics using cortical brain signals. The challenges faced in the development of technical platforms for acquisition and processing of neural signals for neuroprostheses will be addressed in a lecture by Prof. Florian Solzbacher (Salt Lake City, UT, USA). Dr. Reid Harrison (Los Angeles, CA, USA) will discuss specialized low-energy circuits for neural interfaces, and Prof. Thomas Stieglitz (Freiburg) will talk about microtechnological production of flexible multi-electrode arrays that can directly record brain activity.

The event will take place within the "Bernstein Sparks Workshops” series of the Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience and is being organized by four professors from the neurosciences and engineering sciences at the University of Bremen: Professor Dr. Klaus Pawelzik (Center for Cognitive Sciences, Bernstein Group Bremen, Bernstein Focus Sequence Learning) and Professor Dr. Andreas Kreiter (Center for Cognitive Sciences, Bernstein Group Bremen), as well as Professor Dr. Steffen Paul (Institute of Electrodynamics and Microelectronics) and Professor Dr. Walter Lang (Institute for microsensors, -actuators and -systems).

The workshop will receive additional financial support from Brain Products, the bernstein network and the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg.

The workshop will be held in English.