PROVIDENCE – Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. James R. Langevin visited two Brown University brain research labs on June 7, seeing first hand the state-of-art research in developing new tools to combat severe paralysis, depression, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
In a poignant moment, Langevin, who is confined to a wheelchair, examined the new wireless implantable brain sensors being developed under the direction of engineer Arto Nurmikko. The goal is to create a mobile version of a super computer, similar to an iPhone, that can be attached to a wheelchair and connect with the wireless brain sensor, Nurmikko explained to Langevin. “It will serve as an electronic Rosetta Stone that will translate your thoughts into a meaningful electronic signal,” Nurmikko siad.
Not only will it enable wearers to use their own thoughts to control a robotic arm, it will also potentially allow the two-way interface of nerves sending signals to the brain, enabling sensation to return.
Langevin and Whitehouse also toured Brown’s Virtual Environment Navigation Lab in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, where they both donned head-mounted display gear, enabling them to traverse a computer generated virtual environment.