The paper summarizing the main body of my graduate research has just been published in the Journal of Neural Engineering! This work describes our efforts to achieve three-dimensional brain-computer interface control using electrocorticography with 3 individuals with upper-limb paralysis.
Degenhart, AD et al., 2017. “Remapping Cortical Modulation for Electrocorticographic Brain-Computer Interfaces: a Somatotopy-Based Approach in Individuals with Upper-Limb Paralysis..” Journal of Neural Engineering 15 (2). IOP Publishing: 026021. doi:10.1088/1741-2552/aa9bfb. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1741-2552/aa9bfb
Objective. Brain–computer interface (BCI) technology aims to provide individuals with paralysis a means to restore function. Electrocorticography (ECoG) uses disc electrodes placed on either the surface of the dura or the cortex to record field potential activity. ECoG has been proposed as a viable neural recording modality for BCI systems, potentially providing stable, long-term recordings of cortical activity with high spatial and temporal resolution. Previously we have demonstrated that a subject with spinal cord injury (SCI) could control an ECoG-based BCI system with up to three degrees of freedom (Wang et al. 2013 PLoS One). Here, we expand upon these findings by including brain-control results from two additional subjects with upper-limb paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and brachial plexus injury, and investigate the potential of motor and somatosensory cortical areas to enable BCI control. Approach. Individuals were implanted with high-density ECoG electrode grids over sensorimotor cortical areas for less than 30 d. Subjects were trained to control a BCI by employing a somatotopic control strategy where high-gamma activity from attempted arm and hand movements drove the velocity of a cursor. Main results. Participants were capable of generating robust cortical modulation that was differentiable across attempted arm and hand movements of their paralyzed limb. Furthermore, all subjects were capable of voluntarily modulating this activity to control movement of a computer cursor with up to three degrees of freedom using the somatotopic control strategy. Additionally, for those subjects with electrode coverage of somatosensory cortex, we found that somatosensory cortex was capable of supporting ECoG-based BCI control. Significance. These results demonstrate the feasibility of ECoG-based BCI systems for individuals with paralysis as well as highlight some of the key challenges that must be overcome before such systems are translated to the clinical realm. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01393444.