"Real-time, closed-loop neural interfaces allow us to move beyond the traditional static view of the brain and into a realm of precision therapy," Sanchez said.
The program will fund two research teams, one at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the other at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in Boston.
The UCSF team aims to develop an implanted device that targets brain regions involved in an individual's psychiatric or neurological disease. The device would record signals from, and stimulate, neurons in these regions, in order to rehabilitate the malfunctioning brain circuitry. If the approach is successful, the device could ultimately be removed after treatment, DARPA officials said.
The team at MGH will work to identify common components of neurological or psychiatric illnesses, such as increased anxiety, impaired memory or inappropriate reactions to things in the environment. The team will use behavioral testing as well as detailed recordings of individual neurons to discover these common features. The researchers will then work with Draper Laboratories, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to develop a high-tech, implantable brain device that is safe and effective throughout a person's life.