New research center is dedicated to developing neural prostheses

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UCSF-UC Berkeley launches the Center for Neural Engineering & Prostheses

Last December, University of California Berkley and San Francisco launched the Center for Neural Engineering & Prostheses, where clinicians, engineers, and students from both campuses will collaborate on the research and development of new neural prosthetic technology.

Solutions for spinal-cord injury

Researchers at CNEP are trying to create prostheses that patients can control with their brains, using undamaged neural circuits to transmit messages to robotic arms, legs, or computer cursors.

Electrodes can be planted into a patient’s brain or above his or her spinal cord, where they rapidly read brain signals and translate them into commands for the prosthesis.

This technology could allow survivors of neurological injury, including spinal cord injury, the opportunity to move or communicate in a range of new ways.

Recent Breakthroughs

Currently, the cochlear implant is the only commercially available neural prosthesis, but its success among hearing-impaired patients shows that the brain is capable of adapting to and interacting with these artificial devices.

A 2009 study of primate brains at UC Berkeley proves that the brain can also develop the motor memory to control a prosthetic limb.

The other goal of CNEP is to train future clinicians and neural engineers; students in the UCSF-UC Berkeley Joint Bioengineering Graduate Program can specialize in engineering, neuroscience, and clinical medicine.

To learn more, visit CNEP’s website at, or the UC Berkeley News Center website.

In order for people with spinal cord injuries to take advantage of advancements in prostheses or any other treatment, they must keep physically fit. Volunteer with Will2Walk to help spread the message of health and fitness!

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