Beata Jarosiewicz, PhD
Senior Research Scientist
Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) promise to restore independence for people with severe motor disabilities by decoding movement intention directly from neural activity, and translating these movement intentions directly into the control of a computer cursor. However, in its current manifestation, the BrainGate BCI requires the presence of a technician at multiple stages of its use, such as connecting and turning on the BCI selecting the task to be run, choosing the neural signals and time periods to include in filter calibration, etc. If the BCI is to restore independence, each of these stages must become automated or user-controlled. As a step toward bringing the BCI closer to clinical utility, Beata’s goal is to help automate the self-calibration of the BCI and stabilize neural control despite nonstationarities and noise in the recorded neural signals. Her goal is to help make the system practical and robust, enabling long-term, independent BCI use without the need for intervention by an able-bodied technician or caregiver.
Beata received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Her research career started out in basic neuroscience, trying to understand the fundamental principles underlying the brain’s self-organization. For her thesis, she studied place cell and sleep physiology of the hippocampus, a brain structure involved in learning and memory consolidation which, in rats, houses the brain’s cognitive map of the world. She went on to do a postdoc in Andy Schwartz’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh, where she used the brain-computer interface paradigm in monkeys to study plasticity and the brain’s solution to the “credit assignment problem.” She then did a second postdoc with Mriganka Sur at MIT, where she used two-photon calcium imaging and retrograde neuronal tracing to characterize the tuning properties of neurons in the ferret visual system with known projections to the dorsal vs. ventral visual processing streams, as a window into understanding how higher-level cognitive brain structures acquire their functions. She joined BrainGate in January 2010, where she has been applying her neuroscience expertise to help advance the clinical utility of the brain-computer interface system.