The newly established National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies (NCAN), which is supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, is the culmination of a unique research program that has developed over several decades. This program is founded on two major advances, one scientific and one technical. The scientific advance is the recognition that activity-dependent plasticity occurs continually throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and throughout life. The technical advance is the widespread availability of hardware and software that can support complex real-time interactions with the nervous system.
The scientists and engineers of NCAN have both contributed to and taken advantage of these advances; and they have built a unique technical and procedural infrastructure that supports beneficial real-time interactions with the CNS. They are using this infrastructure to produce important new scientific insights and novel therapeutic methods. They are realizing adaptive systems that interact with the nervous system in real time to achieve three important goals: guiding beneficial CNS plasticity; restoring lost neuromuscular functions; and characterizing and localizing brain processes both spatially and temporally.
These three goals and the adaptive systems dedicated to them are the foci of NCAN ’s three technical research and development (TR&D) projects. These projects use a suite of related hardware/software platforms and real-time analysis methods that are continually updated and expanded. Through energetic interactions with a set of outstanding collaborators, NCAN personnel are developing and using each project as a basic research tool and are also translating it into important new clinical applications. NCAN is thereby increasing understanding of CNS function and dysfunction; and it is realizing effective new therapies for a wide range of devastating neurological disorders.
In addition, NCAN provides an extensive program of training and dissemination activities and resources. The goal of this program is to create and maintain an ecosystem of people, knowledge, and hardware and software that enables and promotes the widespread use and further development of adaptive technologies by scientists, engineers, and clinicians to address important scientific and clinical problems. This program includes training courses and workshops, presentations at meetings and institutions, internships and other opportunities to work NCAN scientists and engineers, software and hardware resources, training manuals, technical support mechanisms, opportunities for user interactions, and promotion of uniform hardware/software standards.
The National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies is part of the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, NY; its grant support is overseen by the Albany Research Institute, Inc., a not-for profit corporation organized under the New York State not-for-profit Corporation Law. It is exempt under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code.