APL Colloquium

October 25, 2019

Colloquium Topic: Optical Imaging of the Brain: Is there Really Anything to See?

Over the last decade, APL and its collaborators have demonstrated through DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program that the monitoring and subsequent decoding of neural activity in the brain through a brain computer interface (BCI) can be used to control devices with multiple degrees of freedom.   Impressive in its success, the program relied on the use of an invasive implant to provide high resolution recording of single neuron activity over ~1cm2 area in the brain.  Although providing incredible sensitivity to neural activity, the use of an invasive implant currently limits this technology to non-able-bodied individuals.  Recognizing this limitation, DARPA challenged the research community to develop a non-invasive (NI) BCI device that could provide similar performance to the invasive approach.  Motivated by the potential impact of a NIBCI device, APL has assembled a diverse technical team to explore the use of optical techniques to meet these requirements.

This talk will cover the challenges, successes, and failures over the last four years in trying to realize a NIBCI device.  What started as a goal to simply record neural activity has expanded as it was discovered that the optical signals contained additional health-related information as well.  With this new perspective, we are working to achieve visions for both computation at the speed of thought and revolutionizing neurological health diagnostics.  

Colloquium Speaker: David Blodgett

Dr. David Blodgett is the Chief Scientist for the Research and Exploratory Development Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the nation’s largest university affiliated research center. He is actively leading the development of next generation optical sensors for operation in a wide array of challenging environments; his specific research interests include coherent optical techniques for the development of high-resolution imaging systems for neural signature detection, health monitoring, underwater imaging, and vibration/acoustic sensing.

Dr. Blodgett earned a BSEE degree from Purdue University and Masters and Ph.D. in the Materials Science and Engineering Department from the Johns Hopkins University.