JOURNAL ARTICLE

A brain-computer interface with vibrotactile biofeedback for haptic information

Aniruddha Chatterjee, Vikram Aggarwal, Ander Ramos, Soumyadipta Acharya, Nitish V Thakor
Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation 2007, 4: 40
17941986

BACKGROUND: It has been suggested that Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) may one day be suitable for controlling a neuroprosthesis. For closed-loop operation of BCI, a tactile feedback channel that is compatible with neuroprosthetic applications is desired. Operation of an EEG-based BCI using only vibrotactile feedback, a commonly used method to convey haptic senses of contact and pressure, is demonstrated with a high level of accuracy.

METHODS: A Mu-rhythm based BCI using a motor imagery paradigm was used to control the position of a virtual cursor. The cursor position was shown visually as well as transmitted haptically by modulating the intensity of a vibrotactile stimulus to the upper limb. A total of six subjects operated the BCI in a two-stage targeting task, receiving only vibrotactile biofeedback of performance. The location of the vibration was also systematically varied between the left and right arms to investigate location-dependent effects on performance.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Subjects are able to control the BCI using only vibrotactile feedback with an average accuracy of 56% and as high as 72%. These accuracies are significantly higher than the 15% predicted by random chance if the subject had no voluntary control of their Mu-rhythm. The results of this study demonstrate that vibrotactile feedback is an effective biofeedback modality to operate a BCI using motor imagery. In addition, the study shows that placement of the vibrotactile stimulation on the biceps ipsilateral or contralateral to the motor imagery introduces a significant bias in the BCI accuracy. This bias is consistent with a drop in performance generated by stimulation of the contralateral limb. Users demonstrated the capability to overcome this bias with training.

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