Skip to main content

Rewiring a Damaged Brain

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-09-27 - Microelectronic circuitry to guide the growth of axons in a brain damaged by an exploding bomb car crash or stroke - Case Western Reserve University.

Main Document

Researchers in the Midwest are developing microelectronic circuitry to guide the growth of axons in a brain damaged by an exploding bomb, car crash or stroke.

The goal is to rewire the brain connectivity and bypass the region damaged by trauma, in order to restore normal behavior and movement.

Pedram Mohseni, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve University, and Randolph J. Nudo, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology at Kansas University Medical Center, believe repeated communications between distant neurons in the weeks after injury may spark long-reaching axons to form and connect.

Their work is inspired by the traumatic brain injuries suffered by ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite improvements in helmets and armor, brain trauma continues to be the signature injury of these wars.

Brain damage carries a heavy toll that may include loss of coordination, balance, mobility, memory and problem-solving skills, with soldiers suffering from mood swings, depression, anxiety, aggression, social inappropriateness and emotional outbursts.

Scientists believe that as the brain develops, it naturally establishes and solidifies communication pathways between neurons that repeatedly fire together.

Nudo and others have found that during the month following injury the brain is redeveloping, with fibers that connect different parts of the brain undergoing extensive rewiring.

"The month following injury is a window of opportunity," Mohseni said. "We believe we can do this with an injured brain, which is very malleable."

Mohseni has been building a multichannel microelectronic device to bypass the gap left by injury. The device, which he calls a brain-machine-brain interface, includes a microchip on a circuit board smaller than a quarter. The microchip amplifies signals, called neural action potentials, produced by the neurons in one part of the brain and uses an algorithm to separate these signals - brain spike activity - from noise and other artifacts. Upon spike discrimination, the microchip sends a current pulse to stimulate neurons in another part of the brain, artificially connecting the two brain regions.

The miniature device currently remains outside the body, connecting to micro-electrodes implanted in two regions of the brain.

Nudo has been studying and mapping brain connectivity in a rat model and developing a traumatic brain injury model to test the device and the neuro-anatomical rewiring theory.

The researchers began collaborating in 2007. This month they received a $1.44 million grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program to continue their work and begin testing and improving the device.

During the next four years, they expect to understand the ability to rewire the brain in a rat model and to determine whether the technology is safe enough to test in non-human primates. If tests show the treatment is successful in helping recovery from traumatic brain injury, the researchers foresee the possibility of using the approach in patients 10 years from now.

Related Information:

  1. Traumatic Brain Injuries - Prevention and Treatment
  2. Human Brain Facts and Answers
  3. Definitions of Human Brain Components


Information from our Traumatic Brain Injury: TBI & Concussion Information section - (Full List).

Submit event details, disability news, and assistive technology products for publishing on Disabled World


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be. Also see information on blood group types and compatibility.



  1. Britain's Unproductive Disabled: A Continuing Moral Panic?
  2. Social Networking Helps Keep People Healthy
  3. Majority in Favor of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Screening
  4. When the Spinal Cord Takes Charge of Information Related to Movement




Citation



Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

Disclaimer: Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.