For true, seamless integration of SMART devices and their users, a SMART device should be able to provide feedback to the user. In able-bodied individuals, the body constantly provides important sensory information (i.e. touch, temperature, body position and pain). The ability to feel these things is called ‘somatosensation’. People with impaired somatosensation are prone to injuries such as cuts and burns. Further their movements are often clumsy and can lead to falls. Sensation allows us to easily adapt to our environment. SMART devices should do the same. The human body has many natural sensors (sensory neurons). These sensors collect information from our environment and send it (through the spinal cord) to our brain. The brain processes the information and we adapt to our surroundings. A simple example would be adjusting how we walk based on whether we are walking through sand or deep snow. The process happens seamlessly and automatically. Sadly, the somatosensory system is often damaged in neural injuries and diseases. For example, the information cannot be sent to the brain after a spinal cord injury, or the part of the brain that processing the information is damaged after a stroke. We need to understand more about how and where the brain processes sensory information to help us build better SMART adaptive neural interfaces. Using brain mapping with MRI and brain stimulation experiments we are gaining a more detailed understanding of how we process sensation in the brain. With this knowledge, we will be able to truly integrate SMART devices with their users.
Dr. Kiss completed her M.D. at the University of Ottawa and her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. Dr. Kiss’ lab is dedicated to understanding how therapeutic electrical stimulation affects the brain and nervous system. [...]