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Review
, 3 (8), 444-52

Technology Insight: Future Neuroprosthetic Therapies for Disorders of the Nervous System

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Review

Technology Insight: Future Neuroprosthetic Therapies for Disorders of the Nervous System

Richard A Normann. Nat Clin Pract Neurol.

Abstract

Most disorders of the nervous system result from localized sensory or motor pathologies attributable to disease or trauma. The emerging field of neuroprosthetics is focused on the development of therapeutic interventions that will be able to restore some of this lost neural function by selective electrical stimulation of sensory or motor pathways, or by harnessing activity recorded from remnant neural pathways. A key element in this restoration of function has been the development of a new generation of penetrating microelectrode arrays that provide unprecedented selective access to the neurons of the CNS and PNS. The active tips of these microelectrode arrays penetrate the nervous tissues and abut against small populations of neurons or nerve fibers, thereby providing selective access to these cells. These electrode arrays are not only beginning to provide researchers with the ability to better study the spatiotemporal information processing performed by the nervous system, they can also form the basis for new therapies for disorders of the nervous system. In this Review, three examples of this new generation of microelectrode arrays are described, as are potential therapeutic applications in blindness and spinal cord injury, and for the control of prosthetic limbs.

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