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UCSF, UC Berkeley join forces to advance frontier of brain repair
Date:3/24/2011

expect to develop some of these devices for testing in clinical trials within the next few years.

CNEP will bring together dozens of UCSF and UC Berkeley faculty and students in the fields of neuroscience, neurosurgery and engineering.

In addition to developing devices, the center's mission is to train future neural engineers and clinicians. A new graduate student track in the UCSF-UC Berkeley Joint Bioengineering Graduate Program will feature engineering, neurosciences and clinical medicine.

"At our opening symposium in December we had more than 90 faculty and students from both campuses, as well as research leaders from industry, come together to strategize new and important directions for neuroprosthetics," said Chang.

"Scientists and clinicians who take part in this program will be future leaders in academia and the medical devices industry," said Carmena.

The center builds on UCSF discoveries that date back to the early 1970s, when the late Robin Michelson was one of three scientists worldwide to create and implant the first neural prosthetic, the cochlear implant, which remains the only neural prosthetic in commercial use. In the 1980s, UCSF neuroscientist Michael Merzenich, PhD, played a lead role in the development of the multichannel cochlear implant, which substantially increased the capacity of profoundly deaf people to understand spoken language.

Merzenich's research helped introduce the notion that the sensory pathways in the nervous system change with experience throughout life a concept now known as neuroplasticity. He showed that, in response to the device, the brain has the capacity to actively adapt and learn to process artificial inputs as natural sounds.

UC Berkeley scientists have been at the forefront of research that takes advantage of this plasticity through neuroprosthetic systems. A milestone study in 2009 showed that the primate brain can develop a motor memory to control a p
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Contact: Jennifer O'Brien
jennifer.obrien@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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