Giving Your Brain a Voice: Engineering sensors that listen to brain cells

LLNL Scientist(s)
Allison Yorita
Erin McKay
Teachers School
Tracy HS

Abstract: The human brain is composed of billions of cells that communicate through chemical and electrical signals. LLNL microelectrodes can interface directly with the brain to allow us to monitor and manipulate the dynamics of these brain signals. LLNL microelectrodes are flexible and microfabricated in dense arrays that allow them to collect large amounts of information over long periods of time in the body. We will go over how these arrays are microfabricated and their diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Anna Belle is a research engineer in the Center for Micro- and Nano Technology and Bioengineering Center at LLNL. She received her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on developing biosensor arrays for research into neurological diseases and disorders. She has established the facility for in vivo testing of neurological biosensors at Livermore and is a member of the Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience.

Allison Yorita is a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Micro- and Nano Technology and Bioengineering Center at LLNL. She received her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA where she worked on microfabricated devices to detect neurotransmitters and nucleic acids. Her research at LLNL focuses on microfabrication of neural devices, as well as studying and characterizing chemical sensing capabilities on flexible polymer probes. 

Erin M. McKay is a Biology teacher at Tracy High School in Tracy, CA. She received her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Plant Biology in 2001 and her science teaching credential in 2002 from UC Davis. While attending UC Davis, she interned at AgraQuest. She began teaching at Tracy High School in 2002. She also is an instructor in the Bioscience Teacher Research Academy and Biotechnology Summer Experience for high school students at LLNL.