Title: Soft Wireless Bioelectronics and Signal Processing for Hacking Nervous System: Opportunities and Challenges 


Byung-Jun Yoon and Sung ll Park, Texas A&M Unviersity, USA


It is estimated that the annual expenditure in health care for mental disorders is over $500 billion, placing a huge burden on our society. Current treatments for brain diseases and disorders are often ineffective and they typically do not address the underlying pathology. A substantial barrier to the eventual treatment of such diseases is the insufficient understanding of the detailed mechanisms by which these diseases are initiated or developed. Devices that directly interface with neural circuits in the brain and nervous system can provide an anatomically-specific and relatively non-invasive approach for the study of neuronal functions and their mechanisms, providing the groundwork for effective treatment of neurological disorders. Such devices can decipher and decode neural signaling patterns, extending beyond early clinical examples in hypertension and arthritis; stimulations of renal nerves and carotid sinus can control hypertension and activations of splenic nerves can modify the production of certain inflammatory molecules in rheumatoid arthritis. When coupled with optogenetics, which takes advantage of newly developed light-sensitive channels to control neuronal activity, these technologies can help reveal complex details of action potentials in the nervous system and the brain, and in the long run, enable precision treatments to patients with mental or neurological disorders. This tutorial will start with a broad overview of a newly invented genetic tool, optogenetics, and then define two lines of research paths toward bioelectronics medicines: (i) advancement of interface technology and data acquisition systems and (ii) development of efficient signal and data processing algorithms for establishing neural codes that underlie the mental and neurological disorders. No prior knowledge in neuroscience will be required.