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San Francisco, California, January 7, 2011 - Chief resident Mark Richardson (left) and Dr. Edward Chang (right), University of California San Francisco Medical Center Neurologist and Co-Director for the Center for Neural Engineering at UC Berkeley and San Francisco, discuss where Dr. Chang will open the skull of patient Daniel Sheafer during his procedure to remove a brain tumor. In addition to having his tumor removed, Mr. Sheafer has agreed to Dr. Chang to test Mr. Sheafer's brain through brain mapping This experimental procedure determines exactly what parts of an individual's brain do what and is at the heart of the mission of the UCSF Center for Neural Engineering and Prosthetics, which Dr. Chang directs. The goal is to make brain signals control prosthetic limbs and in other ways restore function. Other researchers are working on this, but Dr. Chang says the UCSF group has the most experience mapping from humans because they've created human-specific recording technologies. "Most existing approaches use technology designed for monkey research," he says, "and the interface isn't the same.".A jaw-dropping aspect of Dr. Chang's work is that he is involved in speech prosthetics--creating computer hardware and software that can translate brain waves into speech. Such a "communications prosthetic," as he calls it, would benefit those whose minds function but who cannot talk, as happens with locked-in syndrome (cf. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") or late-stage ALS, for example. Most brain mapping is done by inserting fine needles--microelectrodes--into the brain, but that can cause scarring of brain tissue, among other disadvantages. Instead, Dr. Chang piggybacks on "awake" open-skull surgeries that have been scheduled to help treat seizure disorders. While the skull is open, he places mapping sensors on the surface of the brain, beneath the skull. The reason this kind of surgery is a good mapping opportunity for Dr. Chang is that because locations in the brain