International Collaborative Research Experience in Neuroengineering

This proposed Focal Point Project, International Collaborative Research Experience in Neuroengineering (ICREN), adds a critical new element to the training of neuroengineering graduate students at UIUC: an in-depth, interdisciplinary, international research experience. The program is designed to improve participating graduate students’ collaborative, leadership, communication, and research skills. The ICREN Focal Point should appeal to students in a broad range of departments including Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neuroscience, Speech and Hearing Science, and Psychology.
ICREN Focal Point Activities

Seminar Series

October 2011
Presenter: Dr. Ken Vickery, Graduate College
Organized by: ICREN Committee
Topic: Proposal writing and fellowships applications
November 2011
Student presentations: Erik Johnson and Amy Maduram, Marianne Catanho and Johana Vega-Leonel, Chris Quinn, Chris Boven and Li Wen Chang, Aadeel Ahktar.
Organized by: ICREN Committee
December 2011
Presenter: Aron K. Barbey, Ph.D. - Decision Neuroscience Laboratory UIUC
Organized by: ICREN Committee
An integrative architecture for general intelligence revealed by lesion mapping

What mechanisms shape the information processing architecture of the human mind? Does general intelligence depend on a set of specialized brain regions, each carrying out a specific aspect of high-level cognition, or emerge from a distributed network that participates in a broad range of higher cognitive functions? I present a series of lesion mapping and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) experiments that investigate the architecture of high-level cognition, examining the neural bases of general intelligence and executive functions. I suggest that higher cognitive functions recruit a distributed network of frontal and parietal regions that integrate verbal, visuospatial and executive processes, and that the communication between areas associated with these capacities is of critical importance for human intelligence. The reviewed findings support an integrative framework for understanding the architecture of high-level cognition, and motivate future research exploring how the observed fronto-parietal system emerges through development, guides learning and generalization, enables goal-directed decision making, and is altered in psychiatric illness and neurological disease.

January 2012 Seminar
Presenter: Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler, UIUC Mechanical Engineering
Organized by: Olivia Cangellaris, Corinne Nakashima, Ben Zimmerman, Aadeel Akhtar, Danielle Dickson
Topic:Professor Hsiao-Wecksler discussed her innovative ankle orthotics used to treat and rehabilitate patients with a wide variety of neuromuscular disorders.
February 2012 Seminar
Presenter: Dr Steve Potter, GA tech
Organized by: Richard Kessler, Brantly Sturgeon, Manoj Kumar, Jake Carpenter-Thompson, Cliston Cole
Studying learning and plasticity in cortical networks in vitro, with multi-electrode and optogenetic interfaces.

We take a reverse-engineering approach to the brain. We create semi-living animals from the ground up, by connecting dissociated cultures of cortical cells to artificial bodies (robots or simulated animals). Thanks to their accessibility and simplicity, in vitro neuronal networks provide insights into fundamental mechanisms important to brain function, and dysfunction. With closed-loop multi-electrode and optical interfaces to cultured nets, we have been able to quell epileptiform bursting, and to train neural tissue to carry out goal-directed tasks. An overview of these new technologies and techniques will be presented, along with some potential future trajectories for applying a better understanding of neuronal networks to help tackle real-world problems.

March 2012 Seminar
Presenter: Professor Tom Mitchell, E. Fredkin University Professor and Department Head Machine Learning Department Carnegie Mellon University
Organized by: CS department and Manoj Kumar
Neural Representations of Word Meanings

How does the human brain represent meanings of words and pictures in terms of neural activity? This talk will present our research addressing this question, in which we are applying machine learning algorithms to fMRI and MEG brain image data. One line of our research involves training classifiers that identify perceptual and semantic properties of a word a person reads, based on their observed neural activity. A second line involves training computational models that predict the neural activity associated with arbitrary English words, including words for which we do not yet have brain image data. A third line of work involves examining neural activity at millisecond time resolution during the comprehension of words and phrases.

April 2012 Seminar
Presenter: Professor Noo Li Jeon, Seoul National University
Organized by: Grace Kim, Ariel Moctezuma, Matthew Petrucci, Chris Liu, Thomas Paine
Microfluidics for Biology Applications: from Chemotaxis to Angiogenesis
Special thanks to this group who worked hard to organize a may seminar. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a time to work for our invitees from Isreal and the United Kingdom.
Ryan Frasca Iris Hsu Ryan Hubbard Sara Schmidt Joseph Holtrop
June 2012 Seminar
Presenter: Professor Jon Rogers UIUC
Organized by: ICREN Committee Tissue-like Electronic Interfaces to the Body

Biology is curved, soft and elastic; silicon wafers are not. Semiconductor technologies that can bridge this gap in form and mechanics will create new opportunities in devices that adopt biologically inspired designs or require intimate integration with the human body. This talk describes the development of ideas for electronics that offer the performance of state-of-the-art, wafer-based systems but with the mechanical properties of a rubber band. We explain the underlying materials science and mechanics of these approaches, and illustrate their use in bio-integrated, ‘tissue-like’ electronics with unique capabilities for mapping cardiac electrophysiology, in both endocardial and epicardial modes, and for performing electrocorticography. Demonstrations in live animal models illustrate the functionality offered by these technologies, and suggest several clinically relevant applications.

2012 UIUC Neuroengineering Symposium

Organized by: Olivia Cangellaris, Iris Hsu, Manoj Kumar, Corinne Nakashima, Thomas Paine

On June 28th, 2012, the Neuroengineering IGERT hosted its second symposium at the University of Illinois Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. About seventy students, faculty and staff from the University of Illinois attended the event, as well as some visitors from other Big 10 schools. Participants had the opportunity to tour the Beckman Biomedical Imaging Center and the Neurocognitive Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute. The symposium also showcased the work of the Neuroengineering IGERT students through a student-poster session; this year, we had thirteen students present posters. This year, the symposium featured talks from faculty from across the country, on the topics of audition, imaging and brain-machine interfaces. Dr. Mark Hasegawa-Johnson (University of Illinois) and Dr. Charles Larson (Northwestern University) spoke on the topic of audition. For our imaging sessions, we welcomed Dr. Jack Gallant (University of California, Berkeley) and Dr. David Van Essen (Washington University in St. Louis). Dr. Jonathan Viventi, from New York University, presented the keynote talk on the subject of flexible silicon electronics for brain-machine interfaces.


Douglas Jones, Electrical & Computer Engineering (faculty)
Brad Sutton, Bioengineering (faculty)
Jon Patrick Grenda, Neuroengineering (Program Coordinator)
Erik Johnson, Electrical & Computer Engineering (student)
Jamie Norton, Molecular & Cellular Biology (student)
Sarah Robinson, Electrical & Computer Engineering (student)