The B-Spot: One Brainy Guy Theodore Berger

Replacement Parts for the Brain: Implantable Biomimetic Electronics as Neural Prostheses, author, Dr. Theodore W. Berger.

Dr. Theodore W. Berger is the David Packard Professor of Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurobiology, and Director of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Theodore W. Berger

Dr. Berger received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1976; his thesis work received the James McKeen Cattell Award from the New York Academy of Sciences. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Irvine from 1977-1978, and was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow at The Salk Institute from 1978-1979.


Two videos on Dr. Berger’s work on the B-Spot click here


Berger’s research interests include the development of neural prostheses and brain implants, the neurophysiology of memory and learning, nonlinear systems analysis of hippocampal neuron and network properties, and biologically based signal processing.

Berger and his team study the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is crucial for the formation, storage, and processing of long-term memories. His team develops mathematical models of neural systems by focusing on the electrical activity that is produced by hippocampal neurons and mapping that activity to underlying biological processes.

Using HPCC resources to create a model of hippocampal brain activity, Berger’s team maps the electrical impulses that neurons send to other neurons along the fibrous network of axons and dendrites. Berger and his team then are able to analyze how hippocampal neurons encode information by generating unique spatio-temporal patterns of activity in response to external stimuli.

In collaboration with researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute, Berger’s team has developed the microcircuitry for neural prostheses that can be used to create an electronic bypass in a damaged area of teh hppocampus. Berger and his team, in collaboration with researchers at Wake Forest University, are currently testing these biomimetic implants, which could potentially repair brain damage caused by injury, stroke, epilepsy, or dementia.

In 2009, Berger and his collaborators won a 4-year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to research the restoration of lost memory function. Berger leads one of the testbeds of the Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems Engineering Research Center, funded by the National Science Foundation. He also co-leads a Biodmedical Research Partnership effort, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and a biologically based threat-sensor project, funded by the U.S. Navy.

Dr. Berger biography includes joining the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh in 1979, being promoted through to the level of Full Professor in 1987. During that time, he received a McKnight Foundation Scholar Award, twice received an NIMH Research Scientist Development Award, and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since 1992, he has been Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neurobiology at the University of Southern California, and was appointed the David Packard Chair of Engineering in 2003. While at USC, Dr. Berger has received an NIMH Senior Scientist Award, was awarded the Lockheed Senior Research Award in 1997, was elected a

Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 1998,
received a Person of the Year “Impact Award” by the AARP for his work in neural prostheses, was a National Academy of Sciences International Scientist Lecturer in 2003, and a an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer in 2004-2005. Dr. Berger was elected a Senior Member of the IEEE in 2005, received a “Great Minds, Great Ideas” award from the EE Times in the same year, and in 2006 was awarded USC’s Associates Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship.

Dr. Berger became Director of the Center for Neural Engineering in 1997, an organization that helps to unite USC faculty with cross-disciplinary interests in neuroscience, engineering, and medicine. He has published over 170 journal articles and book chapters, and is co-editor of a book published by MIT Press on Toward Replacement Parts for the Brain: Implantable Biomimetic Electronics as Neural Prostheses. Dr. Berger currently is chairing a world-wide study of brain-computer interfaces that is being funded by multiple agencies of the NSF, NIH, and DoD.

Love Bucket Book Recommendation on the B Spot: Replacement Parts for the Brain: Implantable Biomimetic Electronics as Neural Prostheses, author, Dr. Theodore W. Berger.

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2 Responses to The B-Spot: One Brainy Guy Theodore Berger

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