Feature Article

Using Biomimetic Implants to Restore Lost Functions

Posted in Ophthalmology by Brian Buntz on June 1, 2010

Building on advances in brain-computer interface technology and computational biology, the ReNaChip project lays the groundwork for the use of a prosthetic chip to recover function to nervous system deficiencies.

Behavioural rehabilitation
Figure 1: Schematic of the closed-loop ReNaChip approach.

The use of biomimetic implants that mimic the biological world to replace lost pathways in the brain provides a tremendous opportunity to develop innovative therapy for neurodegenerative disease and injury. Supported by the EC Seventh Framework programme for future and emerging technologies, the ReNaChip project aims to develop and test the feasibility of a novel approach to behavioural rehabilitation in an aging model: a synthetic biomimetic chip is interfaced with the brain to complete a well-defined neuronal circuit rendered dysfunctional by the aging process.

Biohybrids and the brain-computer interface
As our understanding of how the brain works increases and advances are made in computing and electronics, there is increasing interest in the integration of biology and technology. The ability to provide direct communication between the nervous system and an artificial device is being used to restore damaged hearing (cochelar implants), sight (retinal implants) and movement (neuroprosthetics).
Deep brain stimulation (DBS), whereby the brain is stimulated directly by im-planted electrodes, has been shown to be effective in ameliorating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, tremor and dystonia. However, this method for replacing lost brain function is not applicable to all neurological disease, as it lacks the required specificity to manipulate local, defined circuits within the brain.
The ReNaChip approach
Recent developments in brain computer interface (BCI) and in computational biology have led to innovations in the rehabilitation of central nervous system deficiency beyond the direct DBS approach. We believe that the use of biomimetic implants provides a tremendous opportunity to recover function to a range of nervous system deficiencies. Our aim is to create a synthetic biomimetic model of the brain microcircuit associated with the motor eye-blink learning response and to implement this in a microchip. The device will be integrated with an animal model to create a biohybrid in which a lost motor function is replaced (Figure 1).
The cerebellar microcircuit
The motor eye-blink learning response is an example of a conditioned behaviour that takes place in a location in the brain called the cerebellum. Through repeated exposure to a noise or tone (a conditioned stimulus or CS) followed by an air puff to the eye (an unconditioned stimulus or US), an animal will learn to predict the unconditioned stimulus when it hears the tone and will close the eye in response to the noise (a conditioned response or CR). The ability to learn this behaviour is lost during the aging process. While the performance of the cerebellum is compromised, the inputs and outputs of the responsible microcircuit remain functional. Replacing the deficient part of the neural pathway with a biomimetic implant integrated with the brain should recover the lost function (i.e., the learning response).
To achieve the goal of the project, however, we need to make progress on related component technologies:
  • development of effective physiological recording strategies
  • robust detection of the stimulation signals from the data
  •  delivery of input to a neuromorphic chip that includes the cerebellar model.
We must develop a cerebellar model that can mimic the damaged microcircuit and learn from the stimuli the appropriate conditioned response output that will interface with the biology and bring about the motor eye-blink response. The current status of each of these challenges is discussed below.
Clinical understanding
The success of our technological solution is dependent upon our understanding of the underlying biological system. Much effort has been spent describing the cerebellar microcircuit and its modulation by other regions of the brain.
Tools have been developed to optimise the quality of the recorded physiological data. Silicon microelectrode arrays have been developed with precise positioning of the sensing pads that correspond to the specific brain anatomy with which we are concerned. Algorithmic methods are in place to select the appropriate timing of the stimulus delivery to facilitate learning and will be used to support signal detection.
These activities have supported development of the experimental paradigms required for the practical implementation of the biohybrid, such as simultaneous recordings from multiple sites within the brain.
Signal detection
The interface between the biology and technology takes place in signal detection. The detection of the onset and timing of the CS and US must be extracted from the physiological data in real time and be provided to the biomimetic chip. The vast amount of data present in the brain makes this challenging. We are developing two approaches to this problem: determining the upper limit of information that can be extracted from the data, and developing a model-based signal detection methodology that complies with the constraints of the model and its hardware implementation. 
The cerebellar model and hardware implementation
Figure 2: Aggregation boards for interfacing the electrodes to the physiological recording system and the device that provides the stimulus to action the eye-blink response are pictured.

The output of successful signal processing is the input to the synthetic cerebellar model. The details of cerebellar anatomy allow reliable bottom-up modelling of cerebellar architecture. By contrast, the physiology of the cerebellum allows top-down modelling of learning. A biologically constrained model was previously describedand has been further refined in this project.

The CS and US identified from the physiological data are fed into the synthetic model, which must respond with a learning of the conditioned response and provide an output leading to stimulation of the biohybrid’s facial nerve to bring about an eye-blink response. For the first time, we have demonstrated the practical real-time bidirectional coupling between the physiological data and the synthetic system. The cerebellar model has been shown to fully substitute the function of the biological cerebellar microcircuit in eye-blink conditioning and acquire the learning response.
Our task now is to implement signal detection and the cerebellar model in hardware form. An abstract version of the model in field programmable gate array (FPGA) chip form has demonstrated positive results. Current activity is focused on implementation in an aVLSI chip, compatible with physiological recording methods.
The integration of the hardware form of the model with the biology is supported by a systems-integration approach that has developed the appropriate tools to effectively combine and control the different disciplines—interfacing the physiological recording system with the electrodes, integrating the signal processing and implementing the stimulation protocols (Figure 2).
The way forward
The next stage for the project is critical. The first series of integration experiments interfacing multiple components of the system has been carried out. Promising results have informed the planning of a large-scale demonstration test in which a “closed-loop” experiment will be conducted. This integration of the complete system in a biohybrid is the ultimate goal of the project as it moves into its final year. These results will put the project firmly on the path to demonstrating the ReNaChip concept and bringing the prospect of clinical therapy one step closer. 
1. C. Hofstötter et al. “The Cerebellum Chip: an Analog VLSI Implementation of a Cerebellar Model of Classical Conditioning.” Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems, 577–584 (2005).
Angela Silmon, PhD
is ReNaChip Project Coordinator, Newcastle University, INEX, Herschel Building, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
tel. +44 1912 223 500.
For more information about the ReNa-
Chip project, visit www.renachip.org
or contact enquiries@renachip.org.

Find more content on:
Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Login or register to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Yes, this med-tech will help

Yes, this med-tech will help to diagnosis of the people with neorulogical diseases. I am expecting more from this method. http://halfwayhomes.org/meth-rehab-centers

In many cases of neurological

In many cases of neurological disease like MMD, AlZhimeir disease, brain distrophy have not a good prognosis. This this method of treatment is still under research. Tommy

hello!! Very interesting

hello!! Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community. compraventa relojes Madrid

Thanks for posting this info.

Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can't wait to read lots of your posts.
text your ex back 2.0 michael fiore pdf

pulling plants from the soil.

pulling plants from the soil. If hoeing is used, be sure to sever the plant stem at or below the soil surface to reduce the potential for re-growth h miracle book

So, what should you do if you

So, what should you do if you discover Palmer amaranth growing in your fields? We have developed the following suggested guidelines. Keep in mind these guidelines assume a scenario where the population of Palmer amaranth is only a few plants per acre.palette color shampoo


synthetic biomimetic chip is interfaced with the brain to complete a well-defined neuronal circuit rendered dysfunctional by the aging process.super6.me/365bet.html

Great Article it its really

Great Article it its really informative and innovative keep us posted with new updates. its was really valuable. thanks a lot.
new phone repair

This is a great inspiring

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information...

Thanks for a very interesting

Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.
Heidi Summers


What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.covering economic stimulus payments

I enjoy reading post that can

I enjoy reading post that can make people think about it. I was willing to find such types of technology with new techniques and better procedures. More
often we would like to visit solid stage voltage regulator. As I heard lot about it and curious to read such types of blog in the near future.

For more information visit:
Solid State Voltage Regulator


Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, tremor and dystonia. However, this method for replacing lost brain function is not applicable to all neurological disease, as it lacks the required specificity to manipulate local, defined circuits within the brain.
Charter Communications Login

Video m’a conduit ici, je

Video m’a conduit ici, je viens de trouver ce genre de lectures satisfaisante que je cherchais for. pdf to flash converter | pdf to word transfer

Thus, purchasing of this

Thus, purchasing of this specific Karen Millen Dresses can also be made successful with usage of contemporary technologies that Karen Millen Outlet Ireland are available for the customers and also producing some aggressive and antagonistic consequences in this matter. Karen Millen Ireland


Thanks for sharing good work.
budget hotel in jaipur

i am interested this info

Movies Surprise
Digital Cinema Destinations Corp. is dedicated to transforming movie theaters into digital entertainment centers. DCDC provides consumers with uniquely satisfying experiences, combining the full promise of digital technology with engaging, dynamic content that far transcends traditional movies.

nice information

Tuscany renaissance exclusive charming retreat

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.


This cerebellar product may be proven to completely substitute this operate in the organic cerebellar hotel victoria london microcircuit in eye-blink conditioning and have the educational response.

The person you choose to be

The person you choose to be your primary care info physician is an important person in your life. This medical doctor will be overseeing much of your healthcare, including referring you to specialists when that's necessary.


I like your post.
hotel in jaipur

wonderful information

historic country resort between Siena and Florence
Thanks for such a great article here. I was searching for something like this for quite a long time and at last I’ve found it on your blog. It was definitely interesting for me to read about web applications and their market situation nowadays.

medical developments

The stories of human-computer hybrids have always been fodder for sci-fi. Now, two brand new improvements in science have introduced the possibility of biological computers much nearer than they have been before.
Source of article: Two new developments bring biological computing closer than ever