Communication, Restoration of Function, and Consciousness Assessment with BCI


Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) research has been a hot topic in the past decades. BCIs, which provide a direct connection from the human brain to a computer, translate brain activity into control signals for numerous applications, including tools to provide means to communicate, restore lost function, and help patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). Imagine being able to think, hear, and feel – but not to move or communicate. Many potentially communicative non-responsive patients might be undetectable through standard clinical testing This part of the workshop will give an overview of groups that aim to use BCI technology to identify non-responsive patients that might be able to communicate, and will introduce state-of-the-art technology for advanced consciousness assessment. It will go on to introduce further populations that could benefit from BCIs for communication and control, and describe the latest state-of-the-art systems that aim to achieve this functionality by using motor-imagery (MI) and/or evoked potential BCIs.  Furthermore, in the last few years a totally novel and promising application for motor-imagery (MI) based BCIs has gained great attention. Several recent articles have shown that MI-based BCIs can induce neural plasticity and thus serve as an important tool to enhance motor rehabilitation for stroke patients. The overall goal of this BCI system is not communication, but improved stroke recovery by activating sensorimotor cortex. This activation is translated into control signals for rehabilitation devices like Virtual Reality environments showing moving limbs of avatars, robotic devices attached to the patient’s paralyzed limbs such as exoskeletons, or functional electrical stimulation. The audience will get familiar with all the required hardware and software, procedures for cap mounting, training and classifier setup, and BCI operation for both approaches. We will invite audience members to participate in live demonstrations, providing real-world examples of modern BCI performance in field settings. Workshop supported by g.tec medical engineering, GmbH.

List of Speakers (tentative)

Nuri Firat Ince, PhD, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston, Texas,
Title of Presentation: TBA
Bio: Nuri Firat Ince, PhD is professor and head of the Clinical Neural Engineering Lab, Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston, Texas, USA. His activities include a variety of basic and translational research in neural engineering and biomedical signal processing. Areas of special interest are: neural decoding for neuroprosthetics; machine learning for neuromarker discovery in cognitive and movement disorders; development of embedded wearable wireless sensors and their integration to intelligent systems for healthcare and assisted living. In particular, the development of novel algorithms and machine learning techniques to explore neural activity recorded in clinical setting is in focus. Dr. Ince and his group contribute not only to algorithm development but also to the discovery of new methods for diagnosis and therapy that can be applied in clinical practice. In this scheme, the group works closely with clinicians and researchers from diverse fields such as neuroscience, neurosurgery and neurology.

Tomasz Rutkowski, PhD, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Tsukuba, Japan,
Title of Presentation: “Recent Development in Visual Code-modulated and Motion Onset-based BCI Paradigms“
Bio: Tomasz M. Rutkowski, PhD received his M.Sc. in Electronics and Ph.D. in Telecommunications and Acoustics from Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland, in 1994 and 2002, respectively. He received postdoctoral training at the Multimedia Laboratory, Kyoto University, and in 2005-2010 he worked as a research scientist at RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan. Currently he serves as Assistant Professor at the University of Tsukuba, and as a visiting scientist at RIKEN Brain Science Institute. Professor Rutkowski’s research interests include computational neuroscience, especially braincomputer interfacing technologies, computational modeling of brain processes, neurobiological signal and information processing, multimedia interfaces and interactive technology design.

Jonathan Brumberg, PhD, Dept. of Speech-Language-Hearing, Univ. of Kansas, Kansas,
Title of Presentation: “Using imagined and preparatory motor activity to control assistive devices for speech communication”
Bio: Jonathan Brumberg, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing with a courtesy appointment in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and affiliations with the Neuroscience Graduate Program and Bioengineering Graduate Program at the University of Kansas. He earned his PhD at Boston University in the area of computational neuroscience of speech motor control in 2009 and continued at Boston University as a research assistant professor before coming to the University of Kansas in 2012. His research interests are in the neurological mechanisms underlying speech and communication using electrophysiology and their use in brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Dr. Brumberg’s specific BCI focus is for developing methods to control speech synthesizers and other augmentative and alternative communication devices using motor imagery.

William Coon, PhD, g.tec neurotechnology USA, Inc., Albany, NY, USA,
Title of Presentation: “BCI for stroke rehabilitation and assessment of consciousness“
Bio: William Coon, PhD joined the g.tec team with the opening of a US division in 2015 dedicated to research & development and located in Albany, NY. He earned his B.Sc. studying systems neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and his PhD in Biomedical Science at the University at Albany in collaboration with the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies and Albany Medical College. His research interests include real-time functional brain mapping using electrocorticography (ECoG), and both ECoG- and EEG-based BCI applications. Currently, his work focuses on novel applications of real-time functional mapping in intra-operative settings (with specific focus on the delineation of higher language areas of the brain) and novel applications for BCI systems, including consciousness assessment and neural plasticity.

Organizer I         Dr. Christoph Guger, PhD; web:
Bio:  Dr. Guger studied biomedical engineering at TU Graz, earning his PhD degree in 1999. With his company, g.tec, he developed the first real-time BCI system with continuous feedback, and recently developed BCIs that can assess the state of patients with disorders of consciousness and facilitate stroke rehabilitation. He has dozens of peer-reviewed publications.

Organizer II        Dr. William Coon, PhD
Bio:  Dr. Coon studied functional brain mapping, BCI, and theoretical/experimental neuroscience at the University at Albany in collaboration with the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies. He received his PhD in 2015. His current research interests include novel clinical applications for BCI, ECoG-based mapping in intraoperative settings, and ECoG-based BCI.