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Brain-Computer Interfaces restore brain functions. ERC Starting Grant for Surjo Soekadar

Physician Surjo Soekadar from Tübingen receives € 1.5 Million from the European Research Council for his research on Brain-Computer Interfaces.
Brain-Computer Interfaces restore brain functions. ERC Starting Grant for Surjo Soekadar

Surjo Soekadar, photo: F. Albrecht / University of Tübingen

Brain-Computer Interfaces restore brain functions

In his project “Building Next-Generation Brain/Neural-Machine Interfaces for Restoration of Brain Functions (NGBMI)” Surjo R. Soekadar is merging real-time classification of brain states with closed-loop brain stimulation to improve specific brain functions that are impaired in neurological or psychiatric disorders, such as depression, obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders or dementia. Current brain-computer interfaces are able to “read” electrical, magnetic, or metabolic brain activity and translate it into a control signal for external machines such as robots, computers, or prostheses. Soekadar proved in a recent study that quadriplegics who cannot move their fingers at all can eat and drink independently using a brain-controlled exoskeletal hand prosthesis. He also showed that regular use of such a system can facilitate neuroplasticity boosting recovery following a stroke or damage to the spinal cord. In the ERC-backed research project, Soekadar aims to further develop this technology by implementing individualized electric or magnetic brain stimulation to establish a new form of bi-directional (“read and write”) brain-computer interaction.

Short CV

Surjo Soekadar studied at the Universities of Mainz, Heidelberg, and Baltimore. He completed his doctorate in neural plasticity and phantom pain at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim. He continued this research in Tübingen under Niels Birbaumer. Following a three-year sabbatical at the National Institutes of Health (NIH, USA), he now leads the Applied Neurotechnology working group at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy and at the Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen.

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