Research Interests: invertebrate vision, neural control of flight, multi-electrode arrays, neural interfaces, high density neural recording.Job Interests: Academic/Industry R&D
Implantable Microengineered Neural Interfaces for Studying and Controlling Insects [BPN571]
Our goal is to control the flight of an insect by hijacking its visual system. Flying insects still significantly outperform the most sophisticated flying robots in efficiency, stability and manoeuvrability and this gap is expected to continue for some years to come. Their incredible flying ability relies heavily on sensory feedback from a well-developed visual system that has been studied in significant detail. We use microtechnology to manufacture small biocompatible neural interfaces that are chronically implanted in pupae brains. By taking advantage of the healing that occurs when the pupae metamorphose into adult-form our interfaces can be embedded deep within the visual processing area without permanent impairment. These implanted devices are very stable and can be used to record or electrically stimulate responses from multiple neurons. By recording from multiple neurons we aim to gain new insight into how visual information is processed within the visual neural network, because, thus far, almost all recordings from the insect brain have been of individual neurons. The information we gain will aid in the biomimetic design of sensors for aerial vehicles. Further, by combining the data from multi-neuron recordings with the wealth of knowledge that already exists in the area of insect sensorimotor processing, we aim to design electrical stimulation patterns that would allow us to ‘trick’ the insect into responding to fictitious self-movements. We aim to use these ‘ghost’ stimuli to remote-control the insect’s flight while at the same time capitalizing on their remarkable natural flying abilities.