The way humans interact with computers has evolved from punch cards, to the keyboard and mouse, to much more sophisticated user interfaces, but the kinds of connections imagined in movies like The Matrix, Avatar or Pacific Rim still seem like science fiction. Polina Anikeeva is working to turn fiction into fact, not to help with virtual reality technology, but to help amputees restore full functionality to prosthetic limbs – not just to control the muscles, but to be able to feel and touch again. To achieve this, you need the precision of a virtuoso pianist to connect neural tissue to the prosthetic limb. The key to this precision is finding the right materials.
Dr. Polina Anikeeva is an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT and a principle investigator of the Bioelectronics group. Her research lies in the field of neuroprosthetics and brain-machine interfaces. Together with her group she explores optoelectronic, fiber-based and magnetic approaches to minimally invasive neural interrogation. Her group was first to demonstrate multifunctional flexible fibers for simultaneous optical stimulation, electrical recording and drug delivery in the brain and spinal cord, as well as magnetic nanomaterials for wireless magnetic deep brain stimulation. Her work at the interface of materials science and neurobiology earned a number of junior faculty awards including NSF CAREER and DARPA Young Faculty Award and was recently featured across popular press. She received her doctoral degree in Materials Science from MIT.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx