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DARPA invests in nonsurgical neurotechnologies for eventual use in healthy human subjects

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Non­sur­gi­cal Neur­al Inter­faces Could Sig­nif­i­cant­ly Expand Use of Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy (DARPA News):

Over the past two decades, the inter­na­tion­al bio­med­ical research com­mu­ni­ty has demon­strat­ed increas­ing­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed ways to allow a person’s brain to com­mu­ni­cate with a device, allow­ing break­throughs aimed at improv­ing qual­i­ty of life, such as access to com­put­ers and the inter­net, and more recent­ly con­trol of a pros­thet­ic limb.

The state of the art in brain-sys­tem com­mu­ni­ca­tions has employed inva­sive tech­niques that allow pre­cise, high-qual­i­ty con­nec­tions to spe­cif­ic neu­rons or groups of neu­rons. These tech­niques have helped patients with brain injury and oth­er ill­ness­es. How­ev­er, these tech­niques are not appro­pri­ate for able-bod­ied peo­ple. DARPA now seeks to achieve high lev­els of brain-sys­tem com­mu­ni­ca­tions with­out surgery, in its new pro­gram, Next-Gen­er­a­tion Non­sur­gi­cal Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy (N3).

Non­in­va­sive neu­rotech­nolo­gies such as the elec­troen­cephalo­gram and tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion already exist, but offer nowhere near the pre­ci­sion, sig­nal res­o­lu­tion, and porta­bil­i­ty required for advanced appli­ca­tions by peo­ple work­ing in real-world set­tings …“We’re ask­ing mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary teams of researchers to con­struct approach­es that enable pre­cise inter­ac­tion with very small areas of the brain, with­out sac­ri­fic­ing sig­nal res­o­lu­tion or intro­duc­ing unac­cept­able laten­cy into the N3 sys­tem,” Emon­di said. The only tech­nolo­gies that will be con­sid­ered in N3 must have a viable path toward even­tu­al use in healthy human sub­jects…

DARPA is being sim­i­lar­ly proac­tive in con­sid­er­ing the eth­i­cal, legal, and social dimen­sions of more ubiq­ui­tous neu­rotech­nol­o­gy and how it might affect not only mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, but also soci­ety at large. Inde­pen­dent legal and eth­i­cal experts advised the agency as the N3 pro­gram was being formed, and will con­tin­ue to help DARPA think through new sce­nar­ios that arise as N3 tech­nolo­gies take shape … As the research advances, pub­lished N3 results will fur­ther facil­i­tate broad con­sid­er­a­tion of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies.”

Upcoming Event:

DARPA-SN-18–38: Next-Gen­er­a­tion Non-Sur­gi­cal Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy (N3) Pro­posers Day

  • Syn­op­sis: The Bio­log­i­cal Tech­nolo­gies Office (BTO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is host­ing a Pro­posers Day for the poten­tial pro­pos­er com­mu­ni­ty in sup­port of a planned Broad Agency Announce­ment (BAA) for the Next-Gen­er­a­tion Non-Sur­gi­cal Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy (N3) pro­gram. The Pro­posers Day will be held on April 3, 2018, at the DARPA Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in Arling­ton, VA. Advance reg­is­tra­tion is required. The event will be web­cast to pro­vide lim­it­ed inter­ac­tion for those who would like to par­tic­i­pate remote­ly. See Spe­cial Notice Attach­ment for full details.
  • DATE: April 3, 2018
  • LOCATION: Arling­ton, VA

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