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Journal of neural engineering  2012;10(1):016002.
Sensorimotor rhythms (SMRs) are 8–30 Hz oscillations in the EEG recorded from the scalp over sensorimotor cortex that change with movement and/or movement imagery. Many brain-computer interface (BCI) studies have shown that people can learn to control SMR amplitudes and can use that control to move cursors and other objects in one, two, or three dimensions. At the same time, if SMR-based BCIs are to be useful for people with neuromuscular disabilities, their accuracy and reliability must be improved substantially. These BCIs often use spatial filtering methods such as common average reference (CAR), Laplacian (LAP) filter or common spatial pattern (CSP) filter to enhance the signal-to-ratio of EEG. Here we test the hypothesis that a new filter design, called an “adaptive Laplacian (ALAP) filter,” can provide better performance for SMR-based BCIs.
An ALAP filter employs a Gaussian kernel to construct a smooth spatial gradient of channel weights, and then simultaneously seeks the optimal kernel radius of this spatial filter and the regularization parameter of linear ridge regression. This optimization is based on minimizing leave-one-out cross-validation error through a gradient descent method, and is computationally feasible.
Main results
Using a variety of kinds of BCI data from a total of 22 individuals, we compare the performances of ALAP filter to CAR, small LAP, large LAP and CSP filter. With a large number of channels and limited data, ALAP performs significantly better than CSP, CAR, small LAP and large LAP both in classification accuracy as well as in mean squared error. Using fewer channels restricted to motor areas, ALAP is still superior to CAR, small LAP and large LAP, but equally matched to CSP.
Thus, ALAP may help to improve the accuracy and robustness of SMR-based BCIs.
PMCID: PMC3602341  PMID: 23220879
Brain computer interface (BCI); brain-machine interface (BMI); spatial filter; electroencephalogram (EEG); leave-one-out (LOO) cross-validation; assistive communication
2.  Trained Modulation of Sensorimotor Rhythms Can Affect Reaction Time 
Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology might be useful for rehabilitation of motor function. This speculation is based on the premise that modifying the EEG will modify behavior, a proposition for which there is limited empirical data. The present study examined the possibility that voluntary modulation of sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) can affect motor behavior in normal human subjects.
Six individuals performed a cued-reaction task with variable warning periods. A typical variable foreperiod effect was associated with SMR desynchronization. SMR features that correlated with reaction times were then used to control a two-target cursor movement BCI task. Following successful BCI training, the reaction time task was embedded within the cursor movement task.
Voluntarily increasing SMR beta rhythms was associated with longer reaction times and decreasing SMR beta rhythms with shorter reaction times.
Voluntary modulation of EEG SMR can affect motor behavior.
These results encourage studies that integrate BCI training into rehabilitation protocols and examine its capacity to augment restoration of useful motor function.
PMCID: PMC3132832  PMID: 21411366
reaction time; EEG; brain-computer interface
3.  Using the Electrocorticographic Speech Network to Control a Brain-Computer Interface in Humans 
Journal of neural engineering  2011;8(3):036004.
Electrocorticography (ECoG) has emerged as a new signal platform for brain-computer interface (BCI) systems. Classically, the cortical physiology that has been commonly investigated and utilized for device control in humans has been brain signals from sensorimotor cortex. Hence, it was unknown whether other neurophysiological substrates, such as the speech network, could be used to further improve on or complement existing motor-based control paradigms. We demonstrate here for the first time that ECoG signals associated with different overt and imagined phoneme articulation can enable invasively monitored human patients to control a one-dimensional computer cursor rapidly and accurately. This phonetic content was distinguishable within higher gamma frequency oscillations and enabled users to achieve final target accuracies between 68 and 91% within 15 minutes. Additionally, one of the patients achieved robust control using recordings from a microarray consisting of 1 mm spaced microwires. These findings suggest that the cortical network associated with speech could provide an additional cognitive and physiologic substrate for BCI operation and that these signals can be acquired from a cortical array that is small and minimally invasive.
PMCID: PMC3701859  PMID: 21471638
cortex; electrocorticography; gamma rhythms; human; speech; phoneme
4.  A Scanning Protocol for a Sensorimotor Rhythm-Based Brain-Computer Interface 
Biological psychology  2008;80(2):169-175.
The scanning protocol is a novel Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) implementation that can be controlled with sensorimotor rhythms (SMRs) of the electroencephalogram (EEG). The user views a screen that shows four choices in a linear array with one marked as target. The four choices are successively highlighted for 2.5 s each. When a target is highlighted, the user can select it by modulating the SMR. An advantage of this method is the capacity to choose among multiple choices with just one learned SMR modulation. Each of ten naive users trained for ten 30-min sessions over five weeks. User performance improved significantly (p<0.001) over the sessions and ranged from 30-80% mean accuracy of the last three sessions (chance accuracy=25%). The incidence of correct selections depended on the target position. These results suggest that, with further improvements, a scanning protocol can be effective. The ultimate goal is to expand it to a large matrix of selections.
PMCID: PMC2952890  PMID: 18786603
Brain-Computer Interface; BCI; Sensorimotor Rhythm; Scanning Protocol
5.  Goal Selection vs. Process Control while Learning to Use a Brain-Computer Interface 
Journal of Neural Engineering  2011;8(3):036012.
A brain-computer interface (BCI) can be used to accomplish a task without requiring motor output. Two major control strategies used by BCIs during task completion are process control and goal selection. In process control, the user exerts continuous control and independently executes the given task. In goal selection, the user communicates their goal to the BCI and then receives assistance executing the task. A previous study has shown that goal selection is more accurate and faster in use. An unanswered question is, which control strategy is easier to learn? This study directly compares goal selection and process control while learning to use a sensorimotor rhythm based BCI. Twenty young healthy human subjects were randomly assigned either to a goal selection or a process control based paradigm for 8 sessions. At the end of the study, the best user from each paradigm completed 2 additional sessions using all paradigms randomly mixed. The results of this study were that goal selection required a shorter training period for increased speed, accuracy, and information transfer over process control. These results held for the best subjects as well as in the general subject population. The demonstrated characteristics of goal selection make it a promising option to increase the utility of BCIs intended for both disabled and able bodied users.
PMCID: PMC3279116  PMID: 21508492
6.  The Self-Paced Graz Brain-Computer Interface: Methods and Applications 
We present the self-paced 3-class Graz brain-computer interface (BCI) which is based on the detection of sensorimotor electroencephalogram (EEG) rhythms induced by motor imagery. Self-paced operation means that the BCI is able to determine whether the ongoing brain activity is intended as control signal (intentional control) or not (non-control state). The presented system is able to automatically reduce electrooculogram (EOG) artifacts, to detect electromyographic (EMG) activity, and uses only three bipolar EEG channels. Two applications are presented: the freeSpace virtual environment (VE) and the Brainloop interface. The freeSpace is a computer-game-like application where subjects have to navigate through the environment and collect coins by autonomously selecting navigation commands. Three subjects participated in these feedback experiments and each learned to navigate through the VE and collect coins. Two out of the three succeeded in collecting all three coins. The Brainloop interface provides an interface between the Graz-BCI and Google Earth.
PMCID: PMC2266812  PMID: 18350133
7.  EEG Control of a Virtual Helicopter in 3-Dimensional Space Using Intelligent Control Strategies 
Films like Firefox, Surrogates, and Avatar have explored the possibilities of using brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to control machines and replacement bodies with only thought. Real world BCIs have made great progress toward that end. Invasive BCIs have enabled monkeys to fully explore 3-dimensional (3D) space using neuroprosthetics. However, non-invasive BCIs have not been able to demonstrate such mastery of 3D space. Here, we report our work, which demonstrates that human subjects can use a non-invasive BCI to fly a virtual helicopter to any point in a 3D world. Through use of intelligent control strategies, we have facilitated the realization of controlled flight in 3D space. We accomplished this through a reductionist approach that assigns subject-specific control signals to the crucial components of 3D flight. Subject control of the helicopter was comparable when using either the BCI or a keyboard. By using intelligent control strategies, the strengths of both the user and the BCI system were leveraged and accentuated. Intelligent control strategies in BCI systems such as those presented here may prove to be the foundation for complex BCIs capable of doing more than we ever imagined.
PMCID: PMC3037732  PMID: 20876032
BCI; Brain-Computer Interface; EEG; 3D
8.  Towards a Cure for BCI Illiteracy 
Brain Topography  2009;23(2):194-198.
Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs) allow a user to control a computer application by brain activity as acquired, e.g., by EEG. One of the biggest challenges in BCI research is to understand and solve the problem of “BCI Illiteracy”, which is that BCI control does not work for a non-negligible portion of users (estimated 15 to 30%). Here, we investigate the illiteracy problem in BCI systems which are based on the modulation of sensorimotor rhythms. In this paper, a sophisticated adaptation scheme is presented which guides the user from an initial subject-independent classifier that operates on simple features to a subject-optimized state-of-the-art classifier within one session while the user interacts the whole time with the same feedback application. While initial runs use supervised adaptation methods for robust co-adaptive learning of user and machine, final runs use unsupervised adaptation and therefore provide an unbiased measure of BCI performance. Using this approach, which does not involve any offline calibration measurement, good performance was obtained by good BCI participants (also one novice) after 3–6 min of adaptation. More importantly, the use of machine learning techniques allowed users who were unable to achieve successful feedback before to gain significant control over the BCI system. In particular, one participant had no peak of the sensory motor idle rhythm in the beginning of the experiment, but could develop such peak during the course of the session (and use voluntary modulation of its amplitude to control the feedback application).
PMCID: PMC2874052  PMID: 19946737
Co-adaptive learning; Brain–computer interfaces; BCI illiteracy problem
9.  Change in brain activity through virtual reality-based brain-machine communication in a chronic tetraplegic subject with muscular dystrophy 
BMC Neuroscience  2010;11:117.
For severely paralyzed people, a brain-computer interface (BCI) provides a way of re-establishing communication. Although subjects with muscular dystrophy (MD) appear to be potential BCI users, the actual long-term effects of BCI use on brain activities in MD subjects have yet to be clarified. To investigate these effects, we followed BCI use by a chronic tetraplegic subject with MD over 5 months. The topographic changes in an electroencephalogram (EEG) after long-term use of the virtual reality (VR)-based BCI were also assessed. Our originally developed BCI system was used to classify an EEG recorded over the sensorimotor cortex in real time and estimate the user's motor intention (MI) in 3 different limb movements: feet, left hand, and right hand. An avatar in the internet-based VR was controlled in accordance with the results of the EEG classification by the BCI. The subject was trained to control his avatar via the BCI by strolling in the VR for 1 hour a day and then continued the same training twice a month at his home.
After the training, the error rate of the EEG classification decreased from 40% to 28%. The subject successfully walked around in the VR using only his MI and chatted with other users through a voice-chat function embedded in the internet-based VR. With this improvement in BCI control, event-related desynchronization (ERD) following MI was significantly enhanced (p < 0.01) for feet MI (from -29% to -55%), left-hand MI (from -23% to -42%), and right-hand MI (from -22% to -51%).
These results show that our subject with severe MD was able to learn to control his EEG signal and communicate with other users through use of VR navigation and suggest that an internet-based VR has the potential to provide paralyzed people with the opportunity for easy communication.
PMCID: PMC2949766  PMID: 20846418
10.  Prediction of brain-computer interface aptitude from individual brain structure 
Objective: Brain-computer interface (BCI) provide a non-muscular communication channel for patients with impairments of the motor system. A significant number of BCI users is unable to obtain voluntary control of a BCI-system in proper time. This makes methods that can be used to determine the aptitude of a user necessary.
Methods: We hypothesized that integrity and connectivity of involved white matter connections may serve as a predictor of individual BCI-performance. Therefore, we analyzed structural data from anatomical scans and DTI of motor imagery BCI-users differentiated into high and low BCI-aptitude groups based on their overall performance.
Results: Using a machine learning classification method we identified discriminating structural brain trait features and correlated the best features with a continuous measure of individual BCI-performance. Prediction of the aptitude group of each participant was possible with near perfect accuracy (one error).
Conclusions: Tissue volumetric analysis yielded only poor classification results. In contrast, the structural integrity and myelination quality of deep white matter structures such as the Corpus Callosum, Cingulum, and Superior Fronto-Occipital Fascicle were positively correlated with individual BCI-performance.
Significance: This confirms that structural brain traits contribute to individual performance in BCI use.
PMCID: PMC3613602  PMID: 23565083
BCI; motor imagery; aptitude; DTI; fractional anisotropy
11.  Towards a User-Friendly Brain-Computer Interface: Initial Tests in ALS and PLS Patients 
Patients usually require long-term training for effective EEG-based brain-computer interface (BCI) control due to fatigue caused by the demands for focused attention during prolonged BCI operation. We intended to develop a user-friendly BCI requiring minimal training and less mental load.
Testing of BCI performance was investigated in three patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and three patients with primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), who had no previous BCI experience. All patients performed binary control of cursor movement. One ALS patient and one PLS patient performed four-directional cursor control in a two-dimensional domain under a BCI paradigm associated with human natural motor behavior using motor execution and motor imagery. Subjects practiced for 5-10 minutes and then participated in a multi-session study of either binary control or four-directional control including online BCI game over 1.5 – 2 hours in a single visit.
Event-related desynchronization and event-related synchronization in the beta band were observed in all patients during the production of voluntary movement either by motor execution or motor imagery. The online binary control of cursor movement was achieved with an average accuracy about 82.1±8.2% with motor execution and about 80% with motor imagery, whereas offline accuracy was achieved with 91.4±3.4% with motor execution and 83.3±8.9% with motor imagery after optimization. In addition, four-directional cursor control was achieved with an accuracy of 50-60% with motor execution and motor imagery.
Patients with ALS or PLS may achieve BCI control without extended training, and fatigue might be reduced during operation of a BCI associated with human natural motor behavior.
The development of a user-friendly BCI will promote practical BCI applications in paralyzed patients.
PMCID: PMC2895010  PMID: 20347612
EEG; brain-computer interface (BCI); event-related desynchronization (ERD); event-related synchronization (ERS); user-friendly; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); primary lateral sclerosis (PLS); motor control
12.  A brain-computer interface with vibrotactile biofeedback for haptic information 
It has been suggested that Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) may one day be suitable for controlling a neuroprosthesis. For closed-loop operation of BCI, a tactile feedback channel that is compatible with neuroprosthetic applications is desired. Operation of an EEG-based BCI using only vibrotactile feedback, a commonly used method to convey haptic senses of contact and pressure, is demonstrated with a high level of accuracy.
A Mu-rhythm based BCI using a motor imagery paradigm was used to control the position of a virtual cursor. The cursor position was shown visually as well as transmitted haptically by modulating the intensity of a vibrotactile stimulus to the upper limb. A total of six subjects operated the BCI in a two-stage targeting task, receiving only vibrotactile biofeedback of performance. The location of the vibration was also systematically varied between the left and right arms to investigate location-dependent effects on performance.
Results and Conclusion
Subjects are able to control the BCI using only vibrotactile feedback with an average accuracy of 56% and as high as 72%. These accuracies are significantly higher than the 15% predicted by random chance if the subject had no voluntary control of their Mu-rhythm. The results of this study demonstrate that vibrotactile feedback is an effective biofeedback modality to operate a BCI using motor imagery. In addition, the study shows that placement of the vibrotactile stimulation on the biceps ipsilateral or contralateral to the motor imagery introduces a significant bias in the BCI accuracy. This bias is consistent with a drop in performance generated by stimulation of the contralateral limb. Users demonstrated the capability to overcome this bias with training.
PMCID: PMC2104531  PMID: 17941986
13.  Cortical Imaging of Event-Related (de)Synchronization during Online Control of Brain-Computer Interface Using Minimum-Norm Estimates in Frequency Domain 
It is of wide interest to study the brain activity that correlates to the control of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI). In the present study, we have developed an approach to image the cortical rhythmic modulation associated with motor imagery using minimum-norm estimates in the frequency domain (MNEFD). The distribution of cortical sources of mu activity during online control of BCI was obtained with the MNEFD. Contralateral decrease (event-related desynchronization, ERD) and ipsilateral increase (event-related synchronization, ERS) are localized in the sensorimotor cortex during online control of BCI in a group of human subjects. Statistical source analysis revealed that maximum correlation with movement imagination is localized in sensorimotor cortex.
PMCID: PMC2597339  PMID: 18990646
Brain-computer interface; BCI; source analysis; EEG; motor imagery; ERD; ERS
14.  Proprioceptive Feedback and Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Based Neuroprostheses 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47048.
Brain computer interface (BCI) technology has been proposed for motor neurorehabilitation, motor replacement and assistive technologies. It is an open question whether proprioceptive feedback affects the regulation of brain oscillations and therefore BCI control. We developed a BCI coupled on-line with a robotic hand exoskeleton for flexing and extending the fingers. 24 healthy participants performed five different tasks of closing and opening the hand: (1) motor imagery of the hand movement without any overt movement and without feedback, (2) motor imagery with movement as online feedback (participants see and feel their hand, with the exoskeleton moving according to their brain signals, (3) passive (the orthosis passively opens and closes the hand without imagery) and (4) active (overt) movement of the hand and rest. Performance was defined as the difference in power of the sensorimotor rhythm during motor task and rest and calculated offline for different tasks. Participants were divided in three groups depending on the feedback receiving during task 2 (the other tasks were the same for all participants). Group 1 (n = 9) received contingent positive feedback (participants' sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) desynchronization was directly linked to hand orthosis movements), group 2 (n = 8) contingent “negative” feedback (participants' sensorimotor rhythm synchronization was directly linked to hand orthosis movements) and group 3 (n = 7) sham feedback (no link between brain oscillations and orthosis movements). We observed that proprioceptive feedback (feeling and seeing hand movements) improved BCI performance significantly. Furthermore, in the contingent positive group only a significant motor learning effect was observed enhancing SMR desynchronization during motor imagery without feedback in time. Furthermore, we observed a significantly stronger SMR desynchronization in the contingent positive group compared to the other groups during active and passive movements. To summarize, we demonstrated that the use of contingent positive proprioceptive feedback BCI enhanced SMR desynchronization during motor tasks.
PMCID: PMC3465309  PMID: 23071707
15.  Control beliefs can predict the ability to up-regulate sensorimotor rhythm during neurofeedback training 
Technological progress in computer science and neuroimaging has resulted in many approaches that aim to detect brain states and translate them to an external output. Studies from the field of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and neurofeedback (NF) have validated the coupling between brain signals and computer devices; however a cognitive model of the processes involved remains elusive. Psychological parameters usually play a moderate role in predicting the performance of BCI and NF users. The concept of a locus of control, i.e., whether one’s own action is determined by internal or external causes, may help to unravel inter-individual performance capacities. Here, we present data from 20 healthy participants who performed a feedback task based on EEG recordings of the sensorimotor rhythm (SMR). One group of 10 participants underwent 10 training sessions where the amplitude of the SMR was coupled to a vertical feedback bar. The other group of ten participants participated in the same task but relied on sham feedback. Our analysis revealed that a locus of control score focusing on control beliefs with regard to technology negatively correlated with the power of SMR. These preliminary results suggest that participants whose confidence in control over technical devices is high might consume additional cognitive resources. This higher effort in turn may interfere with brain states of relaxation as reflected in the SMR. As a consequence, one way to improve control over brain signals in NF paradigms may be to explicitly instruct users not to force mastery but instead to aim at a state of effortless relaxation.
PMCID: PMC3744034  PMID: 23966933
EEG; locus of control; neurofeedback; performance prediction; sensorimotor rhythm
16.  A Hybrid Brain-Computer Interface-Based Mail Client 
Brain-computer interface-based communication plays an important role in brain-computer interface (BCI) applications; electronic mail is one of the most common communication tools. In this study, we propose a hybrid BCI-based mail client that implements electronic mail communication by means of real-time classification of multimodal features extracted from scalp electroencephalography (EEG). With this BCI mail client, users can receive, read, write, and attach files to their mail. Using a BCI mouse that utilizes hybrid brain signals, that is, motor imagery and P300 potential, the user can select and activate the function keys and links on the mail client graphical user interface (GUI). An adaptive P300 speller is employed for text input. The system has been tested with 6 subjects, and the experimental results validate the efficacy of the proposed method.
PMCID: PMC3652178  PMID: 23690880
Journal of neuroscience methods  2011;199(1):103-107.
People with or without motor disabilities can learn to control sensorimotor rhythms (SMR) recorded from the scalp to move a computer cursor in one or more dimensions or can use the P300 event-related potential as a control signal to make discrete selections. Data collected from individuals using an SMR-based or P300-based BCI were evaluated offline to estimate the impact on performance of continually adapting the parameters of the translation algorithm during BCI operation. The performance of the SMR-based BCI was enhanced by adaptive updating of the feature weights or adaptive normalization of the features. In contrast, P300 performance did not benefit from either of these procedures.
PMCID: PMC3134307  PMID: 21571004
18.  An MEG-based Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) 
NeuroImage  2007;36(3):581-593.
Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) allow for communicating intentions by mere brain activity, not involving muscles. Thus, BCIs may offer patients who have lost all voluntary muscle control the only possible way to communicate. Many recent studies have demonstrated that BCIs based on electroencephalography (EEG) can allow healthy and severely paralyzed individuals to communicate. While this approach is safe and inexpensive, communication is slow. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) provides signals with higher spatiotemporal resolution than EEG, and could thus be used to explore whether these improved signal properties translate into increased BCI communication speed. In this study, we investigated the utility of an MEG-based BCI that uses voluntary amplitude modulation of sensorimotor μ and β rhythms. To increase the signal-to-noise ratio, we present a simple spatial filtering method that takes the geometric properties of signal propagation in MEG into account, and we present methods that can process artifacts specifically encountered in an MEG-based BCI. Exemplarily, six participants were successfully trained to communicate binary decisions by imagery of limb movements using a feedback paradigm. Participants achieved significant μ-rhythm self control within 32 minutes of feedback training. For a subgroup of three participants, we localized the origin of the amplitude modulated signal to the motor cortex. Our results suggest that an MEG-based BCI is feasible and efficient in terms of user training.
PMCID: PMC2017111  PMID: 17475511
Brain-computer interface; Magnetoencephalography; Real-time feedback; Mu rhythm; Source localization
19.  The Influence of Psychological State and Motivation on Brain–Computer Interface Performance in Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – a Longitudinal Study 
The current study investigated the effects of psychological well-being measured as quality of life (QoL), depression, current mood and motivation on brain–computer interface (BCI) performance in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Six participants with most advanced ALS were trained either for a block of 20 sessions with a BCI based on sensorimotor rhythms (SMR) or a block of 10 sessions with a BCI based on event-related potentials, or both. Questionnaires assessed QoL and severity of depressive symptoms before each training block and mood and motivation before each training session. The SMR-BCI required more training than the P300-BCI. The information transfer rate was higher with the P300-BCI (3.25 bits/min) than with the SMR-BCI (1.16 bits/min). Mood and motivation were related to the number of BCI sessions. Motivational factors, specifically challenge and mastery confidence, were positively related to BCI performance (controlled for the number of sessions) in tow participants, while incompetence fear was negatively related with performance in one participant. BCI performance was not related to motivational factors in three other participants nor to mood in any of the six participants. We conclude that motivational factors may be related to BCI performance in individual subjects and suggest that motivational factors and well-being should be assessed in standard BCI protocols. We also recommend using P300-based BCI as first choice in severely paralyzed patients who present with a P300 evoked potential.
PMCID: PMC2916671  PMID: 20700521
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; brain–computer interface; motivation; mood; sensorimotor rhythms; P300 event-related potential
20.  A Sensorimotor Rhythm based Goal Selection Brain-Computer Interface 
Different control strategies exist for use in a brain-computer interface (BCI). Although process control is the prevailing control strategy for most sensorimotor rhythm based BCIs, the goal selection strategy more closely resembles normal motor control and may be more accurate, faster to use, and easier to learn. We describe here a sensorimotor rhythm based goal selection BCI and a pilot study to compare it with process control strategy in terms of accuracy and speed of use. In both trained and naïve subjects studied, goal selection outperformed process control.
PMCID: PMC3774529  PMID: 19963467
21.  Gamma band activity associated with BCI performance: simultaneous MEG/EEG study 
While brain computer interface (BCI) can be employed with patients and healthy subjects, there are problems that must be resolved before BCI can be useful to the public. In the most popular motor imagery (MI) BCI system, a significant number of target users (called “BCI-Illiterates”) cannot modulate their neuronal signals sufficiently to use the BCI system. This causes performance variability among subjects and even among sessions within a subject. The mechanism of such BCI-Illiteracy and possible solutions still remain to be determined. Gamma oscillation is known to be involved in various fundamental brain functions, and may play a role in MI. In this study, we investigated the association of gamma activity with MI performance among subjects. Ten simultaneous MEG/EEG experiments were conducted; MI performance for each was estimated by EEG data, and the gamma activity associated with BCI performance was investigated with MEG data. Our results showed that gamma activity had a high positive correlation with MI performance in the prefrontal area. This trend was also found across sessions within one subject. In conclusion, gamma rhythms generated in the prefrontal area appear to play a critical role in BCI performance.
PMCID: PMC3853408  PMID: 24367322
BCI-illiteracy; motor imagery BCI; performance prediction; gamma activity; MEG; EEG
22.  Flaws in current human training protocols for spontaneous Brain-Computer Interfaces: lessons learned from instructional design 
While recent research on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) has highlighted their potential for many applications, they remain barely used outside laboratories. The main reason is their lack of robustness. Indeed, with current BCI, mental state recognition is usually slow and often incorrect. Spontaneous BCI (i.e., mental imagery-based BCI) often rely on mutual learning efforts by the user and the machine, with BCI users learning to produce stable ElectroEncephaloGraphy (EEG) patterns (spontaneous BCI control being widely acknowledged as a skill) while the computer learns to automatically recognize these EEG patterns, using signal processing. Most research so far was focused on signal processing, mostly neglecting the human in the loop. However, how well the user masters the BCI skill is also a key element explaining BCI robustness. Indeed, if the user is not able to produce stable and distinct EEG patterns, then no signal processing algorithm would be able to recognize them. Unfortunately, despite the importance of BCI training protocols, they have been scarcely studied so far, and used mostly unchanged for years. In this paper, we advocate that current human training approaches for spontaneous BCI are most likely inappropriate. We notably study instructional design literature in order to identify the key requirements and guidelines for a successful training procedure that promotes a good and efficient skill learning. This literature study highlights that current spontaneous BCI user training procedures satisfy very few of these requirements and hence are likely to be suboptimal. We therefore identify the flaws in BCI training protocols according to instructional design principles, at several levels: in the instructions provided to the user, in the tasks he/she has to perform, and in the feedback provided. For each level, we propose new research directions that are theoretically expected to address some of these flaws and to help users learn the BCI skill more efficiently.
PMCID: PMC3775130  PMID: 24062669
Brain-Computer Interface; instructional design; electroencephalography; training protocols; feedback
23.  Whatever Works: A Systematic User-Centered Training Protocol to Optimize Brain-Computer Interfacing Individually 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e76214.
This study implemented a systematic user-centered training protocol for a 4-class brain-computer interface (BCI). The goal was to optimize the BCI individually in order to achieve high performance within few sessions for all users. Eight able-bodied volunteers, who were initially naïve to the use of a BCI, participated in 10 sessions over a period of about 5 weeks. In an initial screening session, users were asked to perform the following seven mental tasks while multi-channel EEG was recorded: mental rotation, word association, auditory imagery, mental subtraction, spatial navigation, motor imagery of the left hand and motor imagery of both feet. Out of these seven mental tasks, the best 4-class combination as well as most reactive frequency band (between 8-30 Hz) was selected individually for online control. Classification was based on common spatial patterns and Fisher’s linear discriminant analysis. The number and time of classifier updates varied individually. Selection speed was increased by reducing trial length. To minimize differences in brain activity between sessions with and without feedback, sham feedback was provided in the screening and calibration runs in which usually no real-time feedback is shown. Selected task combinations and frequency ranges differed between users. The tasks that were included in the 4-class combination most often were (1) motor imagery of the left hand (2), one brain-teaser task (word association or mental subtraction) (3), mental rotation task and (4) one more dynamic imagery task (auditory imagery, spatial navigation, imagery of the feet). Participants achieved mean performances over sessions of 44-84% and peak performances in single-sessions of 58-93% in this user-centered 4-class BCI protocol. This protocol is highly adjustable to individual users and thus could increase the percentage of users who can gain and maintain BCI control. A high priority for future work is to examine this protocol with severely disabled users.
PMCID: PMC3781165  PMID: 24086710
24.  Goal Selection vs. Process Control in a Brain-Computer Interface based on Sensorimotor Rhythms 
Journal of neural engineering  2009;6(1):016005.
In a brain-computer interface (BCI) utilizing a process control strategy, the signal from the cortex is used to control the fine motor details normally handled by other parts of the brain. In a BCI utilizing a goal selection strategy, the signal from the cortex is used to determine the overall end goal of the user, and the BCI controls the fine motor details. A BCI based on goal selection may be an easier and more natural system than one based on process control. Although goal selection in theory may surpass process control the two have never been directly compared, as we are reporting here. Eight young healthy human subjects participated in the present study, three trained and five naïve in BCI usage. Scalp recorded electroencephalograms (EEG) were used to control a computer cursor during five different paradigms. The paradigms were similar in their underlying signal processing and used the same control signal. However, three were based on goal selection, and two on process control. For both the trained and naïve populations, goal selection had more hits per run, was faster, more accurate (for 7/8 subjects), and had a higher information transfer rate than process control. Goal selection outperformed process control in every measure studied in the present investigation.
PMCID: PMC2746074  PMID: 19155552
25.  How capable is non-invasive EEG data of predicting the next movement? A mini review 
In this study we summarize the features that characterize the pre-movements and pre-motor imageries (before imagining the movement) electroencephalography (EEG) data in humans from both Neuroscientists' and Engineers' point of view. We demonstrate what the brain status is before a voluntary movement and how it has been used in practical applications such as brain computer interfaces (BCIs). Usually, in BCI applications, the focus of study is on the after-movement or motor imagery potentials. However, this study shows that it is possible to develop BCIs based on the before-movement or motor imagery potentials such as the Bereitschaftspotential (BP). Using the pre-movement or pre-motor imagery potentials, we can correctly predict the onset of the upcoming movement, its direction and even the limb that is engaged in the performance. This information can help in designing a more efficient rehabilitation tool as well as BCIs with a shorter response time which appear more natural to the users.
PMCID: PMC3619112  PMID: 23579176
non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG); brain computer interfaces (BCIs); single-trial analysis; event-related potentials (ERP); prediction of next movement; voluntary movements

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