Bidirectional Brain-Computer Interfaces for Restoring Neurological Function

Rajesh P. N. Rao

Director, Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering

Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

University of Washington

The mission of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering is to develop implantable systems that can restore sensorimotor function in individuals with stroke, spinal cord injury, or other neurological conditions. The Center's implantable devices, known as bi-directional brain-computer interfaces (BBCIs), can both record from and stimulate the central nervous system in order to encourage neuroplasticity, promote recovery, and reanimate paralyzed limbs. In this talk, I will provide highlights from the Center's research efforts and briefly touch upon our educational outreach and translational activities in the area of neural engineering.


Rajesh P. N. Rao is the Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar award, an NSF CAREER award, a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research, a Sloan Faculty Fellowship, and a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. He is the author of the book Brain-Computer Interfacing (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and the co-editor of two volumes, Probabilistic Models of the Brain (MIT Press, 2002) and Bayesian Brain (MIT Press, 2007). His research spans the areas of computational neuroscience, robotics, and brain-computer interfacing. Prof. Rao's group was the first to demonstrate direct brain control of a humanoid robot in 2007 and direct brain-to-brain communication in 2013. With Prof. Adrienne Fairhall, he offered the first MOOC (massively open online course) in computational neuroscience on Coursera. Prof. Rao's other interests include classical Indian art and the 4000-year-old undeciphered Indus script, a topic on which he has given a TED talk.