Brain–machine interfaces from motor to mood

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Brain–machine interfaces (BMIs) create closed-loop control systems that interact with the brain by recording and modulating neural activity and aim to restore lost function, most commonly motor function in paralyzed patients. Moreover, by precisely manipulating the elements within the control loop, motor BMIs have emerged as new scientific tools for investigating the neural mechanisms underlying control and learning. Beyond motor BMIs, recent work highlights the opportunity to develop closed-loop mood BMIs for restoring lost emotional function in neuropsychiatric disorders and for probing the neural mechanisms of emotion regulation. Here we review significant advances toward functional restoration and scientific discovery in motor BMIs that have been guided by a closed-loop control view. By focusing on this unifying view of BMIs and reviewing recent work, we then provide a perspective on how BMIs could extend to the neuropsychiatric domain.

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Fig. 1: BMIs create closed-loop control systems.
Fig. 2: Motor BMIs for functional restoration and scientific discovery.
Fig. 3: Steps toward realizing mood BMIs for functional restoration and scientific discovery.


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I thank O. G. Sani and Y. Yang in the Shanechi lab for their helpful feedback and contributions. This work was supported in part by the following to M.M.S.: Army Research Office (ARO) under contract W911NF-16-1-0368 as part of the collaboration between US DOD, UK MOD and UK Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) under the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI); Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-14-2-0043 issued by the ARO contracting office in support of DARPA’s SUBNETS program; Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Program (YIP) under contract N00014-19-1-2128; National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award CCF-1453868; and US National Institutes of Health (NIH) BRAIN grant R01-NS104923. The views, opinions, and/or findings expressed are those of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the US Government.

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Correspondence to Maryam M. Shanechi.

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Shanechi, M.M. Brain–machine interfaces from motor to mood. Nat Neurosci 22, 1554–1564 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41593-019-0488-y

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