Graphene-electrode array for brain map remodeling of the cortical surface

DEPARTMENT OF NEUROSCIENCE

1 OCT 2021

The spatial organization of neural networks representing sensorimotor behavior and cognition has been mapped by flexible devices placed on the cortex, the outer layer of the brain. Sensory messages from each part of the body are processed in a specific area in the brain and maps of the cortex can help understand these areas. A person’s cortical map is shaped by their early development and experiences. Study of such maps can help identify and treat sensory disorders. Existing techniques for brain mapping require placement of penetrating electrodes which is time-consuming and risks brain damage. Mr. Minseok Lee and Dr. Sungchil Yang from City University of Hong Kong and colleagues made arrays of electrodes using graphene membranes and constructed sensory maps of rats and mice by placing these arrays directly on the cortical surface.

Mr. Minseok Lee
Our recently fabricated multichannel graphene array enables high-resolution brain mapping, facilitating rapid and repetitive assessments of brain maps. Furthermore, this advanced graphene array with intervening thru-hole enables large-scale mapping simultaneously in the surface and deep of cortical areas, also improving conformality for better detection of electrocorticography signals. In a subset of the graphene array, cortical surface stimulation can remodel cortical maps, therein enhancing cortical plasticity. This technology provides potential therapeutic applications for various brain disorders by correcting brain maps. This story was introduced as an editorial choice in Nature Publishing Group Asia materials (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41427-021-00334-8).
In our current study, damage of the brain map is associated with sensory loss-induced phantom pains such as tinnitus, phantom limb pain, and neuropathic pain. As in our recent finding, cortical surface stimulation can promote critical period-like plasticity in adult brains, thereby giving rise to a restoration of behavior and cognition. As we have a very encouraging result regarding tinnitus alleviation by cortical map remodeling, the same method will be applied into Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other phantom pains. We are all excited at the new research journey for alleviating many brain diseases through our biomedical devices that is an All-in-One neural interface, so to speak.
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