Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Journal of neural engineering


Objective. At the balanced intersection of human and machine adaptation is found the optimally functioning brain-computer interface (BCI). In this study, we report a novel experiment of BCI controlling a robotic quadcopter in three-dimensional (3D) physical space using noninvasive scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) in human subjects. We then quantify the performance of this system using metrics suitable for asynchronous BCI. Lastly, we examine the impact that the operation of a real world device has on subjects' control in comparison to a 2D virtual cursor task. Approach. Five human subjects were trained to modulate their sensorimotor rhythms to control an AR Drone navigating a 3D physical space. Visual feedback was provided via a forward facing camera on the hull of the drone. Main results. Individual subjects were able to accurately acquire up to 90.5% of all valid targets presented while travelling at an average straight-line speed of 0.69 m s(-1). Significance. Freely exploring and interacting with the world around us is a crucial element of autonomy that is lost in the context of neurodegenerative disease. Brain-computer interfaces are systems that aim to restore or enhance a user’s ability to interact with the environment via a computer and through the use of only thought. We demonstrate for the first time the ability to control a flying robot in 3D physical space using noninvasive scalp recorded EEG in humans. Our work indicates the potential of noninvasive EEG-based BCI systems for accomplish complex control in 3D physical space. The present study may serve as a framework for the investigation of multidimensional noninvasive BCI control in a physical environment using telepresence robotics.

Concepts: Time, Brain, Environment, Natural environment, Neuroscience, Dimension, Robotics, Brain-computer interfacing


Contemporary deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease is delivered continuously, and adjustments based on patient’s changing symptoms must be made manually by a trained clinician. Patients may be subjected to energy intensive settings at times when they are not needed, possibly resulting in stimulation-induced adverse effects, such as dyskinesia. One solution is ‘adaptive’ DBS, in which stimulation is modified in real time based on neural signals that co-vary with the severity of motor signs or of stimulation-induced adverse effects. Here we show the feasibility of adaptive DBS using a fully implanted neural prosthesis.


Objective. Hypertension is the largest threat to patient health and a burden to health care systems. Despite various options, 30% of patients do not respond sufficiently to medical treatment. Mechanoreceptors in the aortic arch relay blood pressure (BP) levels through vagal nerve (VN) fibers to the brainstem and trigger the baroreflex, lowering the BP. Selective electrical stimulation of these nerve fibers reduced BP in rats. However, there is no technique described to localize and stimulate these fibers inside the VN without inadvertent stimulation of non-baroreceptive fibers causing side effects like bradycardia and bradypnea. Approach. We present a novel method for selective VN stimulation to reduce BP without the aforementioned side effects. Baroreceptor compound activity of rat VN (n = 5) was localized using a multichannel cuff electrode, true tripolar recording and a coherent averaging algorithm triggered by BP or electrocardiogram. Main results. Tripolar stimulation over electrodes near the barofibers reduced the BP without triggering significant bradycardia and bradypnea. The BP drop was adjusted to 60% of the initial value by varying the stimulation pulse width and duration, and lasted up to five times longer than the stimulation. Significance. The presented method is robust to impedance changes, independent of the electrode’s relative position, does not compromise the nerve and can run on implantable, ultra-low power signal processors.

Concepts: Medicine, Electrochemistry, Vagus nerve, Carotid sinus, Vagus nerve stimulation, Electrochemical cell, Hypotension, Baroreflex


We have developed an asynchronous brain-machine interface (BMI)-based lower limb exoskeleton control system based on steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs).

Concepts: Thermodynamics, Systems theory, Evoked potential, Steady state


Computer vision-based assistive technology solutions can revolutionise the quality of care for people with sensorimotor disorders. The goal of this work was to enable trans-radial amputees to use a simple, yet efficient, computer vision system to grasp and move common household objects with a two-channel myoelectric prosthetic hand.

Concepts: Implants, Artificial intelligence, Prosthetics, Prosthesis, Hand, Artificial limb, Assistive technology, Computer vision


Objective. Sensorimotor rhythms (SMRs) are 8-30 Hz oscillations in the electroencephalogram (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-noise 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. Approach. 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 the 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 filters. 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 and 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. Significance. Thus, ALAP may help to improve the accuracy and robustness of SMR-based BCIs.

Concepts: Better, Brain, Neuroscience, Optimization, Filter, Filters, Gradient descent, Brain-computer interfacing


Neuroprosthetic devices, such as cochlear and retinal implants, work by directly stimulating neurons with extracellular electrodes. This is commonly modeled using the cable equation with an applied extracellular voltage. In this paper a framework for modeling extracellular electrical stimulation is presented. To this end, a cylindrical neurite with confined extracellular space in the subthreshold regime is modeled in three-dimensional space. Through cylindrical harmonic expansion of Laplace’s equation, we derive the spatio-temporal equations governing different modes of stimulation, referred to as longitudinal and transverse modes, under types of boundary conditions. The longitudinal mode is described by the well-known cable equation, however, the transverse modes are described by a novel ordinary differential equation. For the longitudinal mode, we find that different electrotonic length constants apply under the two different boundary conditions. Equations connecting current density to voltage boundary conditions are derived that are used to calculate the trans-impedance of the neurite-plus-thin-extracellular-sheath. A detailed explanation on depolarization mechanisms and the dominant current pathway under different modes of stimulation is provided. The analytic results derived here enable the estimation of a neurite’s membrane potential under extracellular stimulation, hence bypassing the heavy computational cost of using numerical methods.

Concepts: Mathematics, Cell membrane, Maxwell's equations, Action potential, Differential equation, Partial differential equation, Normal mode, Ordinary differential equation


Research in the area of transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) often relies on computational models of current flow in the brain. Models are built based on magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the human head to capture detailed individual anatomy. To simulate current flow on an individual, the subject’s MRI is segmented, virtual electrodes are placed on this anatomical model, the volume is tessellated into a mesh, and a finite element model (FEM) is solved numerically to estimate the current flow. Various software tools are available for each of these steps, as well as processing pipelines that connect these tools for automated or semi-automated processing. The goal of the present tool – ROAST – is to provide an end-to-end pipeline that can automatically process individual heads with realistic volumetric anatomy leveraging open-source software and custom scripts to improve segmentation and execute electrode placement.
 Approach: ROAST combines the segmentation algorithm of SPM8, a Matlab script for touch-up and automatic electrode placement, the finite element mesher iso2mesh and solver getDP. We compared its performance with commercial FEM software, and SimNIBS, a well-established open-source modeling pipeline.
 Main Results: The electric fields estimated with ROAST differ little from the results obtained with commercial meshing and solving software. We also do not find large differences between the various automated segmentation methods used by ROAST and SimNIBS. We do find bigger differences when volumetric segmentation are converted into surfaces in SimNIBS. However, evaluation on intracranial recordings from human subjects suggests that ROAST and SimNIBS are not significantly different in predicting field distribution, provided that users have detailed knowledge of SimNIBS.
 Significance: We hope that the detailed comparisons presented here of various choices in this modeling pipeline can provide guidance for future tool development. We released ROAST as an open-source, easy-to-install and fully-automated pipeline for individualized TES modeling.


We demonstrate here the first successful implementation in humans of a proof-of-concept system for restoring and improving memory function via facilitation of memory encoding using the patient’s own hippocampal spatiotemporal neural codes for memory. Memory in humans is subject to disruption by drugs, disease and brain injury, yet previous attempts to restore or rescue memory function in humans typically involved only nonspecific, modulation of brain areas and neural systems related to memory retrieval.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Neuroscience, Memory, Hippocampus, Amnesia, Storage, Encoding


We used native sensorimotor representations of fingers in a brain-machine interface (BMI) to achieve immediate online control of individual prosthetic fingers.

Concepts: Prosthesis, Finger, Interface