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Brain-computer interface lets patients play games with just their thoughts

Apr. 01, 2024.
1 min. read 7 Interactions

Faster treatments for patients with motor impairments

About the Writer

Amara Angelica

175.66912 MPXR

Co-lead author, BCI paper for Frontiers in Neuroscience

Calibration-free BCI training (credit: The University of Texas at Austin)

Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin have incorporated machine learning capabilities with their brain-computer interface, normally used to help with patient motor disabilities.

The subjects wear a cap with electrodes that gather data by measuring electrical signals from the brain, and the decoder interprets that information and translates it into game action.

Improving brain function

The experiments are designed to improve brain function for patients and use the devices controlled by brain-computer interfaces to make their lives easier.

The decoder worked well enough that subjects trained simultaneously for the bar game and the more complicated car racing game, which required thinking several steps ahead to make turns.

The research on the calibration-free interface is published in PNAS Nexus.

Improved clinical use

In a clinical setting, this technology will eliminate the need for a specialized team to do this calibration process, which is long and tedious, the researchers note.

This project used 18 subjects with no motor impairments. They plan to test this on people with motor impairments to apply it to larger groups in clinical settings.

The researchers have showed off another potential use of the technology: controlling two rehabilitation robots for hand and arm.

Citation: Kumar, S., Alawieh, H., Racz, F. S., Fakhreddine, R., & Millán, J. D. (2024). Transfer learning promotes acquisition of individual BCI skills. PNAS Nexus, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae076 (open access)

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