ART-AI student Mafalda Ribeiro writes about her recent research trip to Aalborg University in Denmark;
I was honoured to conduct a research trip to Aalborg University in Denmark from December 4th to 15th, 2021. During this trip, I had the opportunity to collaborate with the neural engineering group at the internationally renowned Centre for Neuroplasticity and Pain (CNAP). Their research focuses on the development of neuromodulation paradigms and systems, such as brain-computer interfaces, neural interfaces, and prostheses. The group also has a strong focus on studying peripheral mechanisms associated with pain. I participated in in vivo experiments involving the implantation of bioelectronic devices on the ulnar nerves of pigs, particularly for electrically stimulating and recording from these. I also had the chance to conduct experiments of my own using the same nerves but explanted and maintained in an in vitro preparation containing culture medium.
This experience was invaluable for my PhD project, which focuses on closed loop neuromodulation (recording and stimulating nerves) using AI. By assisting with the in vivo experiments, I obtained a much more practical understanding of the considerations and challenges that go into the development and test of a neural implant. Likewise, with the in vitro preparation, I had the flexibility to design some experiments of my own and investigate additional parameters which are often costly to examine with in vivo experiments. This is particularly useful for optimising electrode configurations and trying out different recording or stimulation paradigms, without the need for entire animal experiments. I am currently writing up a paper outlining my findings from these experiments. Additionally, these experiments allowed me to collect a significant dataset from a few different nerves, which will prove useful as a training set for any AI work in my PhD.
I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with researchers from both Aalborg University and the University of Bath on such fascinating research! It was a brilliant opportunity not only to conduct novel experimental work, but also to meet other students and network with collaborators working within my field.