Grover, Kelly, Weldon receive ProSEED funding for BrainHub project


July 6, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University has funded six new brain research projects through its ProSEED grant program. Part of CMU’s BrainHubSM initiative, the projects range from creating advanced diagnostics for mild traumatic brain injury and developing a high resolution, portable electroencephalogram (EEG), to studying how the brain responds to mechanical stimuli and creating computational methods to study neuroscience data.

Each newly funded project proposes innovative solutions to answer some of the most pressing questions in brain science and represents the university’s strengths in biology, computer science, psychology, statistics and engineering. These areas are the foundation for the global BrainHub initiative, which focuses on how the structure and activity of the brain give rise to complex behaviors.

CMU's BrainHub initiative focuses on how the structure and activity of the brain give rise to complex behaviors.

“Learning more about the mysteries of the human brain requires creative approaches from a variety of perspectives. These projects demonstrate BrainHub’s excellent ability to bring together faculty from various backgrounds to address some of brain research’s most critical and complicated needs,” said Gerry Balbier, executive director of BrainHub.

ProSEED is a program initiated by Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh to provide startup funding for innovative, cross-disciplinary projects that span a number of disciplines. The ProSEED/BrainHub seed grants were created to help researchers develop novel approaches to the study of brain and behavior, and foster new collaborations between faculty members from different departments within CMU and through partnerships that extend beyond the university.

The ProSEED/BrainHub grants are funded through gifts from Henry L. Hillman and Kris Gopalakrishnan. This grant round, which totals $274,446, will allow researchers to complete the fundamental research needed to apply for further funding from governmental and other sources.

Developing a High-Resolution and Portable EEG

Currently, a non-invasive, high-resolution and portable EEG system that could be used both in research and clinical settings does not exist. A team of engineers and cognitive neuroscientists will work together to build the “neural web,” a 10,000 electrode transportable EEG that will spatially localize activity in the brain and use low energy. The team will then use this proof-of-concept in several visual cognition studies to validate the concept, assessing if such a system can be used to decode whether a subject is looking at two different faces or at an upright or inverted face. The project team consists of Pulkit Grover, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Shawn Kelly, senior systems scientist in the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems; Jeffrey Weldon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Marlene Behrmann, the Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and CMU director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC); Lori Holt, professor of psychology; and Michael J. Tarr, professor and head of the Department of Psychology.

Learn about the other ProSEED funded BrainHub research projects here.