Research Study: Virtual Balance Task in Children with Cerebral Palsy

21st July 2018OffByRiseNews

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Type or paste a DOI name into the text box. This page uses frames, but your browser doesn’t support them. This article relies too much on references to primary sources. This article possibly contains original research. National Science Foundation, followed by a contract from DARPA. The field of BCI research and development has since focused primarily on neuroprosthetics applications that aim at restoring damaged hearing, sight and movement.

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Thanks to the remarkable cortical plasticity of the brain, signals from implanted prostheses can, after adaptation, be handled by the brain like natural sensor or effector channels. In 1924 Berger was the first to record human brain activity by means of EEG. Berger’s first recording device was very rudimentary. He inserted silver wires under the scalps of his patients. These were later replaced by silver foils attached to the patient’s head by rubber bandages. Berger connected these sensors to a Lippmann capillary electrometer, with disappointing results.

Berger analyzed the interrelation of alternations in his EEG wave diagrams with brain diseases. EEGs permitted completely new possibilities for the research of human brain activities. UCLA Professor Jacques Vidal coined the term “BCI” and produced the first peer-reviewed publications on this topic. After his early contributions, Vidal was not active in BCI research, nor BCI events such as conferences, for many years. In 2011, however, he gave a lecture in Graz, Austria, supported by the Future BNCI project, presenting the first BCI, which earned a standing ovation. Vidal was joined by his wife, Laryce Vidal, who previously worked with him at UCLA on his first BCI project.

In 1988 report was given on noninvasive EEG control of a physical object, a robot. The experiment described was EEG control of multiple start-stop-restart of the robot movement, along an arbitrary trajectory defined by a line drawn on a floor. The line-following behavior was the default robot behavior, utilizing autonomous intelligence and autonomous source of energy. The experiment described how an expectation state of the brain, manifested by CNV, controls in a feedback loop the S2 buzzer in the S1-S2-CNV paradigm.

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In 2015, the BCI Society was officially launched. The board is elected by the members of the Society, which has several hundred members. Neuroprosthetics is an area of neuroscience concerned with neural prostheses, that is, using artificial devices to replace the function of impaired nervous systems and brain related problems, or of sensory organs. The most widely used neuroprosthetic device is the cochlear implant which, as of December 2010, had been implanted in approximately 220,000 people worldwide. Practical neuroprosthetics can be linked to any part of the nervous system—for example, peripheral nerves—while the term “BCI” usually designates a narrower class of systems which interface with the central nervous system. The terms are sometimes, however, used interchangeably. Neuroprosthetics and BCIs seek to achieve the same aims, such as restoring sight, hearing, movement, ability to communicate, and even cognitive function.

Both use similar experimental methods and surgical techniques. Several laboratories have managed to record signals from monkey and rat cerebral cortices to operate BCIs to produce movement. Monkeys have navigated computer cursors on screen and commanded robotic arms to perform simple tasks simply by thinking about the task and seeing the visual feedback, but without any motor output. Studies that developed algorithms to reconstruct movements from motor cortex neurons, which control movement, date back to the 1970s. There has been rapid development in BCIs since the mid-1990s. In 1999, researchers led by Yang Dan at the University of California, Berkeley decoded neuronal firings to reproduce images seen by cats. Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, has been a prominent proponent of using multiple electrodes spread over a greater area of the brain to obtain neuronal signals to drive a BCI.

After conducting initial studies in rats during the 1990s, Nicolelis and his colleagues developed BCIs that decoded brain activity in owl monkeys and used the devices to reproduce monkey movements in robotic arms. Monkeys have advanced reaching and grasping abilities and good hand manipulation skills, making them ideal test subjects for this kind of work. By 2000 the group succeeded in building a BCI that reproduced owl monkey movements while the monkey operated a joystick or reached for food. The BCI operated in real time and could also control a separate robot remotely over Internet protocol. Later experiments by Nicolelis using rhesus monkeys succeeded in closing the feedback loop and reproduced monkey reaching and grasping movements in a robot arm. Other laboratories which have developed BCIs and algorithms that decode neuron signals include those run by John Donoghue at Brown University, Andrew Schwartz at the University of Pittsburgh and Richard Andersen at Caltech. Schwartz’s group created a BCI for three-dimensional tracking in virtual reality and also reproduced BCI control in a robotic arm.

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Andersen’s group used recordings of premovement activity from the posterior parietal cortex in their BCI, including signals created when experimental animals anticipated receiving a reward. In addition to predicting kinematic and kinetic parameters of limb movements, BCIs that predict electromyographic or electrical activity of the muscles of primates are being developed. Miguel Nicolelis and colleagues demonstrated that the activity of large neural ensembles can predict arm position. This work made possible creation of BCIs that read arm movement intentions and translate them into movements of artificial actuators. Carmena and colleagues programmed the neural coding in a BCI that allowed a monkey to control reaching and grasping movements by a robotic arm. The biggest impediment to BCI technology at present is the lack of a sensor modality that provides safe, accurate and robust access to brain signals. It is conceivable or even likely, however, that such a sensor will be developed within the next twenty years.

The use of such a sensor should greatly expand the range of communication functions that can be provided using a BCI. Development and implementation of a BCI system is complex and time consuming. In response to this problem, Gerwin Schalk has been developing a general-purpose system for BCI research, called BCI2000. A new ‘wireless’ approach uses light-gated ion channels such as Channelrhodopsin to control the activity of genetically defined subsets of neurons in vivo. The use of BMIs has also led to a deeper understanding of neural networks and the central nervous system.

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Research has shown that despite the inclination of neuroscientists to believe that neurons have the most effect when working together, single neurons can be conditioned through the use of BMIs to fire at a pattern that allows primates to control motor outputs. BCIs are also proposed to be applied by users without disabilities. A user-centered categorization of BCI approaches by Thorsten O. Zander and Christian Kothe introduces the term passive BCI. The Annual BCI Research Award is awarded in recognition of outstanding and innovative research in the field of Brain-Computer Interfaces. Each year, a renowned research laboratory is asked to judge the submitted projects. The jury consists of world-leading BCI experts recruited by the awarding laboratory.

Motor imagery-based Brain-Computer Interface robotic rehabilitation for stroke. What are the neuro-physiological causes of performance variations in brain-computer interfacing? Invasive BCI research has targeted repairing damaged sight and providing new functionality for people with paralysis. Invasive BCIs are implanted directly into the grey matter of the brain during neurosurgery. One of the first scientists to produce a working brain interface to restore sight was private researcher William Dobelle. Dobelle’s first prototype was implanted into “Jerry”, a man blinded in adulthood, in 1978. A single-array BCI containing 68 electrodes was implanted onto Jerry’s visual cortex and succeeded in producing phosphenes, the sensation of seeing light.

The system included cameras mounted on glasses to send signals to the implant. In 2002, Jens Naumann, also blinded in adulthood, became the first in a series of 16 paying patients to receive Dobelle’s second generation implant, marking one of the earliest commercial uses of BCIs. The second generation device used a more sophisticated implant enabling better mapping of phosphenes into coherent vision. Phosphenes are spread out across the visual field in what researchers call “the starry-night effect”. BCIs focusing on motor neuroprosthetics aim to either restore movement in individuals with paralysis or provide devices to assist them, such as interfaces with computers or robot arms. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, led by Philip Kennedy and Roy Bakay, were first to install a brain implant in a human that produced signals of high enough quality to simulate movement. Partially invasive BCI devices are implanted inside the skull but rest outside the brain rather than within the grey matter.

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They produce better resolution signals than non-invasive BCIs where the bone tissue of the cranium deflects and deforms signals and have a lower risk of forming scar-tissue in the brain than fully invasive BCIs. There has been preclinical demonstration of intracortical BCIs from the stroke perilesional cortex. Note: these electrodes had not been implanted in the patient with the intention of developing a BCI. BCI researchers simply took advantage of this. Signals can be either subdural or epidural, but are not taken from within the brain parenchyma itself. It has not been studied extensively until recently due to the limited access of subjects.

Currently, the only manner to acquire the signal for study is through the use of patients requiring invasive monitoring for localization and resection of an epileptogenic focus. ECoG is a very promising intermediate BCI modality because it has higher spatial resolution, better signal-to-noise ratio, wider frequency range, and less training requirements than scalp-recorded EEG, and at the same time has lower technical difficulty, lower clinical risk, and probably superior long-term stability than intracortical single-neuron recording. Light reactive imaging BCI devices are still in the realm of theory. These would involve implanting a laser inside the skull.


The laser would be trained on a single neuron and the neuron’s reflectance measured by a separate sensor. When the neuron fires, the laser light pattern and wavelengths it reflects would change slightly. There have also been experiments in humans using non-invasive neuroimaging technologies as interfaces. The substantial majority of published BCI work involves noninvasive EEG-based BCIs. Noninvasive EEG-based technologies and interfaces have been used for a much broader variety of applications. The technology is somewhat susceptible to noise however. Another research parameter is the type of oscillatory activity that is measured.

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A further parameter is the method of feedback used and this is shown in studies of P300 signals. BCIs to decode categories of thoughts without training patients first. While an EEG based brain-computer interface has been pursued extensively by a number of research labs, recent advancements made by Bin He and his team at the University of Minnesota suggest the potential of an EEG based brain-computer interface to accomplish tasks close to invasive brain-computer interface. In addition to a brain-computer interface based on brain waves, as recorded from scalp EEG electrodes, Bin He and co-workers explored a virtual EEG signal-based brain-computer interface by first solving the EEG inverse problem and then used the resulting virtual EEG for brain-computer interface tasks. Well-controlled studies suggested the merits of such a source analysis based brain-computer interface. A 2014 study found that severely motor-impaired patients could communicate faster and more reliably with non-invasive EEG BCI, than with any muscle-based communication channel.

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In the early 1990s Babak Taheri, at University of California, Davis demonstrated the first single and also multichannel dry active electrode arrays using micro-machining. The single channel dry EEG electrode construction and results were published in 1994. In 1999 researchers at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio, led by Hunter Peckham, used 64-electrode EEG skullcap to return limited hand movements to quadriplegic Jim Jatich. Non-invasive BCIs have also been applied to enable brain-control of prosthetic upper and lower extremity devices in people with paralysis. Research into military use of BCIs funded by DARPA has been ongoing since the 1970s. The current focus of research is user-to-user communication through analysis of neural signals.

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In 2001, The OpenEEG Project was initiated by a group of DIY neuroscientists and engineers. The OpenEEG Project marked a significant moment in the emergence of DIY brain-computer interfacing. In 2010, the Frontier Nerds of NYU’s ITP program published a thorough tutorial titled How To Hack Toy EEGs. The tutorial, which stirred the minds of many budding DIY BCI enthusiasts, demonstrated how to create a single channel at-home EEG with an Arduino and a Mattel Mindflex at a very reasonable price. In 2013, OpenBCI emerged from a DARPA solicitation and subsequent Kickstarter campaign. MRI measurements of haemodynamic responses in real time have also been used to control robot arms with a seven-second delay between thought and movement.

In 2011 researchers from UC Berkeley published a study reporting second-by-second reconstruction of videos watched by the study’s subjects, from fMRI data. This was achieved by creating a statistical model relating visual patterns in videos shown to the subjects, to the brain activity caused by watching the videos. Motor imagery involves the imagination of the movement of various body parts resulting in sensorimotor cortex activation, which modulates sensorimotor oscillations in the EEG. This can be detected by the BCI to infer a user’s intent. Biofeedback is used to monitor a subject’s mental relaxation.