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NSF sponsors $18.5 million effort to create mind-machine interface
Date:7/14/2011

The National Science Foundation today announced an $18.5 million grant to establish an Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering based at the University of Washington.

"The center will work on robotic devices that interact with, assist and understand the nervous system," said director Yoky Matsuoka, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering. "It will combine advances in robotics, neuroscience, electromechanical devices and computer science to restore or augment the body's ability for sensation and movement."

The center launches this month and will be based in Russell Hall on the UW's Seattle campus. The grant is for five years of funding, with the possibility of renewal for another five years.

Partners are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and San Diego State University. Also partnering are historically minority-serving institutions Spelman College and Morehouse College, both in Atlanta, and Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif. International partners are the University of British Columbia and the University of Tokyo.

Researchers will develop new technologies for amputees, people with spinal cord injuries and people with cerebral palsy, stroke, Parkinson's disease or age-related neurological disorders.

"We already see chips that interface with neural systems and then stimulate the right muscles based on that information, and we have purely mechanical lower-limb prostheses that are fast enough to compete in the Olympics," Matsuoka said. "Our center will use sensory and neural feedback to give these devices much more flexibility and control."

A diverse group of faculty from the UW College of Engineering, UW College of Arts and Sciences and the UW Medical Center will be involved in the new center. Among them are Chet Moritz, who works on restoring movement to paralyzed limbs; Matsuoka, whose Neurobotics Laboratory works on the human-robot interface; Thomas
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Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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