Research Projects

Brief descriptions of my current research. Please check my CV for a full list of projects and publications.

Neural basis of neuroprosthetic skill learning

Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) use neural activity to control external devices, such as computer cursors or robotic arms. Numerous studies have demonstrated the great therapeutic promise of BMIs to restore movement to individuals with paralysis, yet there is much to be discovered about the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms that make this possible. Effective control of a BMI requires learning. This learning depends on a wide array of learning mechanisms that engage distributed networks throughout the brain. My research focuses on understanding how the brain adapts to the introduction of a BMI and learns to effectively control it.

Neuroprosthetic learning driven by refinement of cortical dynamics​

Zippi*, You*, Ganguly, & Carmena

  • Check out a preprint of this work here!

  • This work was presented at the 9th International IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering.  The conference paper can be found here

The role of prefrontal cortex in neuroprosthetic skill learning 

Zippi, Shvartsman, Wallis, & Carmena

  • ​This project is a work in progress and has not yet been presented. Check back later for more updates!

Keywords: brain-machine interfaces, neuroprosthetics, abstract skill learning, large-scale multi-site recording, neuroplasticity, neural adaptation

Systems-based therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurotherapeutic tool that uses electrical pulses delivered with electrodes implanted in the brain to modulate neural circuits underlying brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease. Recent work has suggested that this technique may also be useful in disrupting the maladaptive circuits underlying severe mental illness. My research focuses on characterizing the maladaptive circuits underlying neuropsychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression by linking neurophysiology with behavioral symptoms. The goal of this work is to use this information to develop closed-loop stimulation devices that monitor mental state and self-titrate electrical stimulation to re-establish healthy neural signaling throughout the affected neural circuit.

Neurotherapeutic effects of closed-loop microstimulation of prefrontal cortical targets​

Santacruz*, Zippi*, Wallis, & Carmena

  • This work was recently presented at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Check out the abstract here!


Modulation of value and reward encoding in caudate and anterior cingulate cortex through caudate stimulation

Santacruz, Zippi, Wallis, & Carmena

  • This work was presented at the 2019 Center for Neural Engineering & Prothesis annual retreat and the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Check out the abstract here

Keywords:  neuromodulation, neurotherapeutic microstimulation, deep brain stimulation, neuropsychiatric disorders, decision-making