Scientists at Brown University, Providence, RI, say that a new wireless brain-sensing system will allow them to acquire high-fidelity neural data to advance neuroscience that cannot be accomplished with current sensors that tie subjects to cabled computer connections for analysis. Their results show that the technology transmitted data-rich, neuroscientifically meaningful signals from animal models as they slept, woke, and exercised.

Since the participants are not constrained, the neural circuit activity reflects naturalistic behavior. This can enable new types of neuroscience experiments with vast amounts of brain data wirelessly and continuously streamed from brain microcircuits, the researchers say.

The custom-engineered neuroelectronic platform is composed of a 5 contimeter, 100-channel transmitter that weighs 46.1 grams, and a 4-antenna receiver that employs sophisticated signal processing to maximize the transmitter’s signal while the subject is moving around.

The wireless transmitter connects to a tiny implanted electrode array that detects the activity of scores of neurons in the cortex via a small port embedded in a subject’s skull. The transmitter is also compatible with multiple types and classes of brain sensors.

“Among the unique features of our technology is that we developed this compact lightweight neurosensor with a custom-designed low-power high-efficiency transmitter,” said Ming Yin, the study’s lead author. “It dissipates two magnitudes less power than commercial 802.11n transceivers to broadcast a comparable rate of high-speed data—up to 200 megabits per second—within a few meters distance. The low power and small size, along with built-in electrostatic discharge protection features, make our device safer and more practical for mobile subjects.”

The team demonstrated that the transmitter can run continuously for more than 48 hours on a single rechargeable AA battery while relaying a high rate of data directly from the brain.