Pioneering brain-computer interface technology

October 13, 2010

Efforts to advance technology to help people who have lost communication and movement abilities are getting support from an Arizona Biomedical Research Commission grant for a project combining resources and expertise at Arizona State University and the Children’s Neuroscience Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

David Adelson leads a research team at the institute working on development of “brain-computer interface” technology. The team is collaborating with Stephen Helms Tillery, an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Download Full Image

The three-year grant of almost $469,000 will help fund refinement of an interface system designed to help children and adults who are unable to perform typical activities such as dressing, walking, talking, typing or writing due to severe brain disorders caused by stroke, severe cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – also known as ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” – spinal cord injury or similar disorders.

"We have been working on these interfaces in the laboratory for a decade, and it’s exciting to finally see our work moving into a clinical setting through the collaboration with Phoenix Children's Hospital," Helms Tillery said.

The interface system will allow people to use their own brain signals to communicate or interact indirectly with their environment by controlling a computer.

With improved device technologies and interactive software, people would be able to communicate and interact by using computers to control motorized carts, wheelchairs, artificial limbs, communication devices, or even robots. The technologies also may offer the possibility of communication through use of the Internet.

“This is truly a pioneering technology,” Adelson said, “and we expect that this type of collaborative research in Phoenix between the CNI at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and ASU will continue to spur further potential innovations and associative technologies in the future.”

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


MFA grad to read at Piper House, speak to local students

October 13, 2010

Nov. 2, 2010
7:45 p.m.

Poet Sarah Vap, who earned her master of fine arts degree in creative writing at Arizona State University in 2005, will give a free reading of her poetry at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Piper Writers House, Tempe campus. Download Full Image

Earlier that day, she will address nearly 300 students at La Joya Community High School in Avondale, who hae been studying her work.

Vap is the author of “Dummy Fire,” which won the 2006 Saturnalia Poetry Prize, selected by Forrest Gander, and “American Spikenard,” which won the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize, selected by Ira Sadoff.

She is co-editor of poetry for the online journal 42 Opus. Her third collection, “Faulkner’s Rosary,” was released Oct. 1 from Saturnalia Books with this description:

“Vap celebrates the mysteries of pregnancy with wonder, fear, sorrow, and joy. Like counting the beads on a rosary, she takes us along a trail of connected couplets, building a concrete yet mythic exploration of the body as it prepares to bring another body into the world.”

Poet Alice Notley writes, “This is a poetry of light, edge, and coherence, and it is beautiful.” And ASU poet Cynthia Hogue adds, “I am in awe of the rare beauty of these poems.” Her fourth collection, “Iris, Starless,” is forthcoming from Saturnalia Books.

At La Joya, Vap will speak at the school’s new Performing Arts Center  as part of a partnership between Arizona State University’s Young Writers Program (YWP) and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

It will be a return visit for Vap, who was a teaching artist for YWP – at La Joya – while she was earning her master of fine arts degree at ASU.

La Joya students also have been writing their own poems during YWP creative writing residencies lead by YWP teaching artists.

The residencies are part of YWP’s Distinguished Visiting Writers in the Schools Series. Students who participate in the series attend writing workshops that focus on one author’s work and, as a culminating event, they attend a reading/Q&A at which they meet the author.

Past authors include:
•    U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic   
•    American Book Award-winning poet Kimiko Hahn 
•    National Book Critics Circle Award winner Sonia Sanchez 
•    National Poetry Series winner Rigoberto González 
•    NAACP Image Award winner Dwayne Betts 
•    Tupelo Press Prize winner Aimee Nezukumatathil

For more information on the La Joya event, contact Sean Nevin, (602)496-1391, or sean.neven">">

For more information about the reading, contact the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, (480) 965-6018, or">">