Indian American Krishna Shenoy develops thought-controlled prostheses

Professor Krishna V. Shenoy, PhD @ Stanford
Professor Krishna V. Shenoy, PhD @ Stanford

An Indian American electrical engineer from Stanford University “Krishna Shenoy” has developed a technique to make brain-controlled prostheses more precise.  Shenoy has developed a precise brain controlled prostheses intended for people with paralysis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Shenoy’s team tested a brain-controlled cursor meant to operate a virtual keyboard. This thought-controlled device developed by Krishna Shenoy and his team analyses the neuron sample and makes dozens of corrective adjustments to the estimate of the brain’s electrical pattern — all in the blink of an eye. The device provides the natural and intuitive control of readings taken directly from the brain, then using the mechanical system of eye tracking movement to direct the cursors.

“Brain-controlled prostheses will lead to a substantial improvement in quality of life,” Shenoy said.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also given Shenoy’s team its nod to conduct a pilot clinical trial of their thought-controlled cursor on people with spinal cord injuries.

“The speed and accuracy demonstrated in this prosthesis results from years of basic neuroscience research and from combining these scientific discoveries with the principled design of mathematical control algorithms,” Shenoy added.

“This is a fundamentally new approach that can be further refined and optimised to give brain-controlled prostheses greater performance, and therefore greater clinical viability,” Shenoy noted.

When we type or perform other precise tasks, our brains and muscles usually work together effortlessly.

But when a neurological disease or spinal cord injury severs the connection between the brain and limbs, once-easy motions become difficult or impossible.

In recent years, researchers have sought to give people suffering from injury or disease some restored motor function by developing thought-controlled prostheses.

Such devices tap into the relevant regions of the brain, bypass damaged connections and deliver thought commands to devices such as virtual keypads.

The findings appeared in the journal Nature Communications.

About: Krishna V. Shenoy, PhD

  • Professor – Department of Electrical Engineering, Department of Neurobiology (by courtesy)
  • Department of Bioengineering (affiliate)
  • Neurosciences Graduate Program, Bio-X Program, Stanford Neurosciences Institute
  • Director of “Shenoy Group”: Neural Prosthetic Systems Laboratory (NPSL)
  • Co-Director of “Translational Group”: Neural Prosthetics Translational Laboratory (NPTL)

Education & Training

  • 1986-1987 UC San Diego, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering (EE)
  • 1987-1990 BS EE, UC Irvine, Summa Cum Laude, Advisors: Profs. G.L. Shaw and G. Sonek
  • 1989 Summer intern at Rockwell Semiconductor Products Divsion (then Conexant, now Jazz), Newport Beach, CA
  • 1990-1992 SM EE, MIT, Advisor: Prof. C.G. Fonstad, Jr.
  • 1992-1995 PhD EE, MIT, Advisor: Prof. C.G. Fonstad, Jr.
  • 1995-1998 Postdoc, Neurobiology, Caltech, Advisor: Prof. R.A. Andersen
  • 1998-2001 Senior Postdoc, Neurobiology, Caltech, Advisor: Prof. R.A. Andersen

Honors & Awards

  • 1988- Tau Beta Pi (engineering honor society; UC Irvine chapter president 1989-1990)
  • 1988- Eta Kappa Nu (electrical and computer engineering honor society)
  • 1988-1989 University of California at Irvine, Hembd Memorial Scholarship1989-1990
  • University of California Presidential Undergraduate Fellowship
  • 1990-1995 NSF Graduate Fellow
  • 1992-1995 Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellow
  • 1996 Hertz Foundation Doctoral Thesis Prize “Monolithic Optoelectronic VLSI Circuit
  • Design and Fabrication for Optical Interconnects”
  • 1999 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences
  • 2002 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2002-2004)
  • 2007 McKnight Technological Innovations in Neurosciences Award (2007-2009)
  • 2008 Charles Lee Powell Faculty Scholar, School of Engineering, Stanford Univ. (2008-2012)
  • 2009 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award (2009-2014)
  • 2010 Stanford University Postdoc Mentoring Award
  • 2012 North American Konkani Association Sammelan 2012, Award of Excellence in Research
  • 2013 University of California at Irvine and Class of 1990 alumni establish: Krishna V. Shenoy Undergraduate Scholarship for electrical and computer engineers pursuing humanitarian interests
  • 2013 University of California at Irvine Distinguished Alumnus Award, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering

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