Newsletter

The Cybathlon BCI race highlights mutual learning as the roadmap to translational non-invasive motor imagery BCI

RESEARCH
Serafeim Perdikis, Luca Tonin, Sareh Saeedi, Christoph Schneider, José del R. Millán

The Cybathlon competition has been the first ever international championship for disabled individuals competing with assistive devices1. Held in Zürich, Switzerland in October 2016, it featured the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) race as one of its most innovative disciplines2. The Cybathlon BCI race aspired to accelerate the development of BCI technology, promote end-user and public awareness, as well as to attract funding agencies and entrepreneurs. The discipline consisted of a virtual race game called “Brain Runners” (Figure 1), where four brain-controlled avatars could be pushed towards the finish line by means of (up to) three mental commands. These commands should be issued by the “pilot” exclusively on suitable color-coded areas (spin on cyan, jump on magenta and slide on yellow “pads”). Pilots should also be able to “idle” and avoid any command delivery on additional white pads. Erroneous commands would slow down the pilot’s course down the race track, which consisted of sixteen consecutive pads (four of each type) placed in random order. Brain Runners has been designed to assess all those skills that are considered crucial to allow BCI in real-world scenarios, while also being attractive to Cybathlon’s live audience. Eleven teams representing BCI research groups from around the world have participated in the competition.

Cortico-Striatal Circuits are a Key Component of Learning in brain-machine interface tasks

RESEARCH
Ryan Neely, Aaron Koralek, Vivek Athalye, Rui Costa, Jose Carmena

Establishing a functional link between the human nervous system and computer systems could enable a broad range of applications, from medical treatments to consumer-focused products. Brain-machine interface (BMI) technologies have shown early promise in restoring communication and movement capabilities to paralyzed individuals, and there remains a strong research as well as commercial interest in developing these technologies further. Many BMI systems work by measuring neural signals, and “decoding” these signals to produce activity in an artificial effector- for example, a computer cursor or robotic appendage…

Wearable Microwave Imager and BMI Development

RESEARCH
Joel Libove, David Schriebman and Mike Ingle

Ultrawideband microwave pulses having widths of 20-50 picoseconds can penetrate the skull and travel into deep brain tissues. Recently developed radar integrated circuits can generate customizable pulses, launch them into the cortex, and monitor the resulting reflections from brain tissue boundaries. The amplitude of these reflections varies slightly, in real time, due to metabolic changes in brain tissue undergoing localized activity, enabling functional activity to be spatially mapped. The arrival time of these reflections also varies with the pulsation of arterial walls, additionally facilitating real-time imaging of neurovascular structures. A helmet under development, with 128 dual-channel radar ICs shows promise for enabling a wearable brain machine interface.

The Potential of Neuroimaging-Guided Sensorimotor Rehabilitation

RESEARCH
James Sulzer, Roger Gassert

Stroke, caused by a cerebrovascular lesion, is one of the most debilitating diseases in the world. While physical and occupational therapy play an important role in the rehabilitation process, we are still unable to determine effective treatment strategies for the reduction of stroke-related impairments. It appears that reducing impairments after stroke may be mostly spontaneous and that therapy primarily supports compensation. Despite the source of the injury in the brain, treatment strategies are only at the limb level. The focus on the limbs while brain reorganization goes unmonitored could controversially result in compensatory neuroplasticity that limits recovery.

Exploiting DNA Sequencing Technology for High-Throughput Neuroanatomy

RESEARCH
Justus M Kebschull

The brain is the most complex organ of the body, formed by billions of neurons and trillions of synapses, all precisely connected by 100,000 miles of wiring. Understanding how the brain processes information relies, at least in part, on understanding these connections. However, in mammals, we still lack a fine-resolution map of neural connectivity.

Impressions from the 2017 IEEE Brain Data Bank Competition – Boston

NEW: STUDENT CORNER

Note from the editor: As part of the IEEE commitment to educating a new generation of engineers, the IEEE Brain Initiative eNewsletter BrainInsight is launching a new space called the “Student Corner” for young researchers to present their opinions on current events or research topics.

Can Creativity be Assessed? Your Brain on Art, When Art and Science Meet.

RESEARCH
Mario Ortiz, José L. Contreras-Vidal, José M. Azorín

Music sounds, body dances and hands draw responding to each other while a projector screen shows brain waves of a saxophonist, a dancer and a visual artist, and the real-time motion captured of the dancer shown as an avatar.

Decoding Inner Speech from Brain Signals

RESEARCH
Stephanie Martin

Many people cannot talk or communicate due to various neurological conditions. These people would benefit from a speech device that can decode their inner speech directly from brain activity. However, investigating and decoding inner speech processes has remained a challenging task due to the lack of behavioral output and the difficulty in labeling precisely the content of inner speech.

About BrainInsight

BrainInsight, the IEEE Brain Initiative eNewsletter, is a quarterly online publication, featuring practical and timely information and forward-looking commentary on neurotechnologies. BrainInsight describes recent breakthroughs in research, primers on methods of interests, or report recent events such as conferences or workshops.


Managing Editor

Ricardo Chavarriaga
Center for Neuroprosthetics, EPFL, Switzerland
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