Dr. Adam Sachs is the Director of Neuromodulation and Functional Neurosurgery at The Ottawa Hospital, Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Neurosurgery, Associate Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Member of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute, and Adjunct Professor of Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University. Prior to medical school, he completed a Bachelor of Science at McGill University in physiology and math, and a Master of Science at York University in applied mathematics researching mechanisms of human edge detection. During his neurosurgery residency at the University of Ottawa he participated in the Clinical Investigator program, performing neurophysiology and brain computer interface research in non-human primates. Following residency he did a 2-year fellowship at Stanford University in Functional Neurosurgery and Complex Spine surgery.
My lab is interested in the neurophysiological representation of decision making and behaviour, including the sensorimotor transformation from sensory input (e.g., visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive) to motor output (e.g., moving your hand from one location to another). We have several parallel avenues of research into these topics.
Through our collaboration with Julio Martinez-Trujillo's primate lab at Western University in London, Ontario, we look at how ensembles of neurons in lateral prefrontal cortex represent various stages of behaviour including attention, sensory processing, memory, motor planning, and motor execution. We then use machine learning tools to build decoders that can process the neuronal activity in real-time and predict behavioural outcomes. It is possible to then use the predicted outcome to control an external device (e.g., robot arm). If the monkey can see the robot then the monkey and the robot can adapt to each other for better control. This closed-loop brain control system is called a brain-machine interface (BMI) or brain-computer interface (BCI).
We also use BCIs in humans undergoing awake brain surgery for the implantation of deep brain stimulation electrodes for the treatment of movement disorders like Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, and focal dystonia. BCI technology enables unique experiments that examine learning and plasticity in the brain. We also use BCIs to examine how volitional control of brain signals interacts with motor symptoms to motivate the development of a new class of therapeutic devices.
Finally, we are also looking forward to developing brain-controlled assistive devices using long-term electrode implants in severely disabled humans.