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Dustin Tyler Discusses Neural Interfaces and The Wealth of Difference Sensation Offers Prosthesis Users

Neural Implant podcast - the people behind Brain-Machine Interface revolutions

Release Date: 04/26/2021

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Dustin Tyler is a Kent H Smith professor at the Case Western Reserve University and the Director of the Human Fusions Institute. He has a secondary appointment as the principal investigator at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veteran Affairs Medical centre. His expertise and interests include directly connecting humans and technology over the neural system to improve human performance and capability. His areas of work include clinical trials of Class III medical devices with emphasis on neural interfaces; acute and chronic pre-clinical studies in small and large mammalian models, and computational neuroscience. In today’s episode, Dustin talks about his work with brain-computer interfaces and some of the exciting breakthroughs he has seen in the past 10 years. 

 

Top three takeaways:

  1. "Most people think brain-computer interfaces are whole brain implants, but in reality, they are more correctly cortical interfaces, which is only a small part of the brain. Peripheral interfaces are also brain-computer interfaces and generally engage all of the brain."
  2. "In an experiment, Dustin and his team found that simply by adding sensation, and hence engaging human-in-the-loop control, participants had more success performing delicate grasping and manipulation exercises."
  3. "So we have augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and the next advance forward is NeuroReality. And, what I mean by that is that we're actually connecting directly technology to the human nervous system."

 

[0:00] Ladan introduces the episode and the guest, Dustin Tyler

 

[2:00] Dustin starts the conversation by explaining what the term ‘Brain-computer interface’ really means and introduces us to his work focus on the peripheral nervous system

 

[4:00] Dustin discusses some of the differences between the sensory and motor neurons; breaks down the mechanics behind what’s happening in the nervous system to stimulate sensation; and some of the breakthroughs of switching from non-human primates to clinical work.

 

[11:50] Dustin shares some of the other success that his research team have had with amputees and other patients

 

[14:40]  “It's unlikely is that the nerve itself just stops responding to electrical stimulation. Based on a long history of activity, that's unlikely, but we couldn't rule that out.”

 

[17:00]  Dustin describes an experiment where participants with prosthesis were asked to remove the stems from cherry and the remarkable difference observed when patients were given the sensation of feeling even over vision.

“ What it says is how intricately your sensations are in this feedback in the control system. That vision is actually a really poor control.”



[19:00] “Even with a poor control system, patients can gain a whole lot more by adding sense into that loop”

 

[28:30] We don’t really have any best practices. We have found that frequency tends to be what we prefer in terms of modulating pressure. 

 

[33:30] “So. I think the field in general right now is looking at and rightfully so again, the information content of what we can put into the peripheral nerve and how we do that.”

 

[36:20] “What we're kind of looking at now is, next level, which is adding touch. So it's a third dimension that we can now add. And if you think if you've ever been in VR, when you reach out to touch something, you can't touch it, it kind of. Destroys the illusion. A lot of ways we can change that now where you can actually feel when you're doing through that, um, through that system.”

 

[37:00] Dustin discusses some of the ideas and possibilities that come with thinking of this new area termed Neural Reality.

 

[47:30] Unlike with cyberpunk, with the interface, we aren’t changing you. The interface is there but when it’s turned off, it doesn’t exist

 

[49:40] Dustin talks about some of the work coming in the future and some of the projects he is currently excited about.