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Brain-Computer Interface Laboratory


Laboratory Studies
In the lab we are conducting studies to understand the relationship between the physiological response produced by the traditional P300 event-related potential and the physiological response produced by the P300-BCI paradigm. Gaining an understanding of this relationship may elucidate a means by which we can further improve the P300-BCI. We are also testing a number of paradigmatic manipulations in an effort to improve BCI performance. The most successful manipulations will then be tested with people who have ALS.
Attentional Manipulations
We are investigating how heightened attentional awareness may improve BCI performance. By inducing a heightened state of attentional awareness through the use of meditative and mindfulness induction we expect to find more stable and robust EEG responses, improving BCI performance.
Supported by an R15 award from the NIH ( NIDCD)
Longitudinal Study with an ALS Population
We have embarked on a long range study to examine the the efficacy of BCI use for people with ALS. We recruit people in the early stages of ALS and track performance over a number of months to examine the relationship between BCI performance and physical ability.
Enhancing P300-Based BCI Performance
Together with the Statistical Signal Processing Applied to Cochlear Implants and Subsurface Sensing ( SSPACISS ) Laboratory at Duke University, directed by Dr. Leslie Collins, and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement, directed by Kevin Caves. In the R21 phase of the project, we are improving real-time stimulus selection via optimal experiment design, optimizing channel selection, and manipulating stimulus presentation. In the R33 phase, we will test and refine the most promising approaches in the homes of ALS patients.
Supported by an R21/R33 award from the NIH ( NIDCD)
Software Accessibility
With our colleagues at the Wadsworth Center BCI Laboratory; led by Dr. Jonathan Wolpaw, Chief, Laboratory of Neural Injury and repair, and Theresa Vaughan, Clinical Director, Brain-Computer Interface Research, we are working on numerous software projects aimed at making BCI technology more accessible to and user friendly for the BCI user as well as the BCI user's caregivers. These improvements are critical in translating BCI use from the laboratory environment to the home environment, where the device may be used for many hours every day.
Supported by an NIH ( NIBIB/ NINDS) Bioengineering Research Partnership
Stimulus Presentation Manipulation

In collaboration with researchers at the Wadsworth Center and Dr. George Townsend , Algoma University, we are investigating a variety of different stimulus presentation paradigms. Our initial results show that manipulating the stimulus presentation sequence can significantly improve the speed and accuracy of the P300-BCI.

Supported by an NIH (NIBIB/ NINDS ) Bioengineering Research Partnership

Acute Care Setting

In collaboration with Dr. Leigh Hochberg and a team of researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in addition to Theresa Vaughan at the Wadsworth Center, we have been testing the P300-BCI with patients who are in an acute care setting and have no means of verbal communication. To date, we have had modest results in this setting; however, with recent protocol and software modifications we are confident that the project will ultimately be successful. The overall implications of a BCI in the acute care environment could reach well beyond individuals with severe motor disabilities to provide enormous benefit and relief to patients in an already undesirable situation.
Supported by an R21 award the NIH ( NIDCD)

Sensor Improvement

Collaborators at Quantum Applied Sciences and Research, Inc. (QUASAR) have developed a novel "dry" electrode. Standard "wet" electrodes require a conductive electrolyte solution to make contact between the electrode and the scalp. The QUASAR electrode does not need conductive electrolyte. Each electrode has many small "fingers" that can reach through the hair and make contact with the scalp. We have conducted a recent study demonstrating that the dry electrodes can perform as well as standard wet electrodes. These results are important in so much as they may allow the BCI end user significantly more comfort leading to more BCI use, and less overall maintenance of the system.
Supported by an STTR award from the NIH (NINDS)

Analysis Efficiency

Over the past four years, while we were both at the Wadsworth Center, Dr. Dean Krusienski, University of North Florida, and I collaborated with Dr. Dennis McFarland of the Wadsworth Center and continue to investigate a number of signal processing techniques in an effort to improve P300 BCI speed and accuracy. In addition, based on our finding, Dr. Krusienski has developed a graphical user interface (GUI) that can be directly imported into the BCI2000 software program (a BCI stimulus and recording program that is used by approximately 300 research laboratories worldwide) to rapidly conduct online experiments. Based on the success of our methods and the GUIs ease of use, it is now packaged as part of the BCI2000 software release. BCI2000 is maintained by Dr. Gerwin Schalk at the Wadsworth Center and it is free for educational and research purposes.
Supported by a NIH ( NIBIB/ NINDS) Bioengineering Research Partnership

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