BME Seminar: Helen Schwerdt (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – “Multi-Modal Interfaces for Probing Chemical and Electrical Neural Activity Long-Term”

January 28, 2020
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Whitaker Hall 218 (Danforth Campus)

“Multi-Modal Interfaces for Probing Chemical and Electrical Neural Activity Long-Term”

NOTE day

This seminar is hosted by the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering.

Abstract: Dopamine neurochemicals govern key behaviors including movement and motivation. Dopamine dysregulation is linked to most forms of mood disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and many other neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. In Parkinson’s disease, there is a massive loss of dopamine and an abnormal elevation of beta-band electrical signaling throughout the brain, and these are highly correlated with the debilitating loss of normal motor and mood functions. Techniques that allow long-term tracking of these neurochemical and electrical neural signals are needed to identify and intervene at the sources of these diseases. I will present on my work focused on addressing key unmet needs in neurochemical interfacing: longterm stability, multi-site monitoring, and synchronous measures of electrical and chemical forms of neural activity. I will describe recent advances in chronic monitoring of dopamine in rodents and primates, where we were able to record these  chemical signals over the longest periods following implantation (> 1 year). We recently  created multi-modal interfaces to record, for the first time, both chemical and electrical neural activity concurrently. These systems were employed to investigate directly the link between dopamine and beta-band oscillations, prevalent biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease, in behaving primates (rhesus monkeys). We further explored the link between these chemical and electrical neural signals and the control of mood and movement behavioral variables that are compromised in Parkinson’s. Finally, I will describe my goals of leveraging these new tools to build systems to improve diagnosis and treatment of human disorders.

Biomedical Engineering (BME) seminars

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