Exciting Directions in Neuroscience and Neuroengineering

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Speaker: Dr. Gerwin Schalk

Faculty host: Jonathan Viventi

The intersection of signal processing/machine learning, computer science, material engineering and neuroscience is beginning to open up exciting opportunities for important advances in systems and cognitive neuroscience and in translational neuroengineering. Our work over the past 15 years has focused on taking advantages of these opportunities.
Our neuroscience research investigates the neural basis of motor, language, and cognitive function by applying computations techniques to recordings from the surface of the brain (electrocorticography (ECoG)) in humans. For example, we study how local field potentials in different cortical areas (e.g., in PM and M1) prepare for and execute hand or finger movements. Our neuroengineering research is taking advantage of the resulting neuroscientific understanding and aims to address particular clinical problems. These clinical problems include the restoration of function in people with severe motor disabilities using brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). BCI systems translate neural activity from the brain into control signals that drive applications that allow people to communicate with or control their environment. This work includes statistical signal processing, machine learning, and real-time system design and implementation. For example, how can we design brain-based communication systems with performance that rivals that of spoken language?
In this talk, I will describe the types of signals that can be detected in ECoG and the emerging understanding of their physiological origin. I will then demonstrate that ECoG encodes detailed aspects of function at high spatial and temporal resolution. Finally, I will show how this understanding allows us to allow people to communicate directly using brain signals, and to produce a detailed map of cortical function in real time. Overall, this talk aims to communicate the substantial research and commercial opportunities of these emerging directions, and to inspire the community at NYU to participate in them.

About the Speaker
Dr. Schalk obtained his M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Graz University of Technology in Austria, his M.S. in Information Technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, and his Ph.D. in Computer and Systems Engineering from RPI. He is interested in engineering, scientific, and translational aspects of devices that interface the brain with external devices for functional augmentation/restoration or for diagnosis. He authored or co-authored more than 65 peer-reviewed publications, one book and several book chapters, and has given more than 115 invited lectures world-wide. His work is currently funded by the NIH and the US Army and has been extensively featured by the media, including features on CNN, NBC, CBS, and NPR, articles in Discover Magazine, New York Times Magazine, Technology Review, Wired, New Scientist, etc. He is also listed in Who's Who in the World and Who's Who in America, and received several awards for his work.