Neural engineering: The process, applications, and its role in the future of medicine

Evon S. Ereifej, Courtney E. Shell, Jonathon S. Schofield, Hamid Charkhkar, Ivana Cuberovic, Alan D. Dorval, Emily L. Graczyk, Takashi D.Y. Kozai, Kevin J. Otto, Dustin J. Tyler, Cristin G. Welle, Alik S. Widge, José Zariffa, Chet T. Moritz, Dennis J. Bourbeau, Paul D. Marasco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective. Recent advances in neural engineering have restored mobility to people with paralysis, relieved symptoms of movement disorders, reduced chronic pain, restored the sense of hearing, and provided sensory perception to individuals with sensory deficits. Approach. This progress was enabled by the team-based, interdisciplinary approaches used by neural engineers. Neural engineers have advanced clinical frontiers by leveraging tools and discoveries in quantitative and biological sciences and through collaborations between engineering, science, and medicine. The movement toward bioelectronic medicines, where neuromodulation aims to supplement or replace pharmaceuticals to treat chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and psychiatric disorders is a prime example of a new frontier made possible by neural engineering. Although one of the major goals in neural engineering is to develop technology for clinical applications, this technology may also offer unique opportunities to gain insight into how biological systems operate. Main results. Despite significant technological progress, a number of ethical and strategic questions remain unexplored. Addressing these questions will accelerate technology development to address unmet needs. The future of these devices extends far beyond treatment of neurological impairments, including potential human augmentation applications. Our task, as neural engineers, is to push technology forward at the intersection of disciplines, while responsibly considering the readiness to transition this technology outside of the laboratory to consumer products. Significance. This article aims to highlight the current state of the neural engineering field, its links with other engineering and science disciplines, and the challenges and opportunities ahead. The goal of this article is to foster new ideas for innovative applications in neurotechnology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063002
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Volume16
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 12 2019

Keywords

  • applications
  • collaboration/teams
  • future
  • innovation
  • knowledge gaps
  • neural engineering
  • neurotechnology

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