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From Brain to BrainGate and Back: Moving Between Basic and Applied Neuroscience

Neuroscience research is driven by the desire both to understand how neurons and nervous systems function and to use that knowledge to better the lives of those who have, or may acquire, nervous systems disorders. Neuroscience research drives the development of new tools that expand our ability to investigate animal models and human brains and research provides neurotechnology that produces innovative approaches to treat disorders and restore lost function. BrainGate, a brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, is an example of a human application of knowledge and tools that emerged from a basic neuroscience lab and also enabled pilot human clinical trials of a BCI. The BrainGate system is being created to help people with paralysis gain independence and control. John Donoghue describes how the quest to understand how cortical circuits generate behavior led to the BrainGate project and how that project is providing a window on human cortical function not previously available. The path led a neurobiologist into the startup company world and back to an interdisciplinary group in an academic research program that is one fledgling model for human neuroscience.

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