Rehabilitation and Neural Engineering Laboratory

Acute Electrocorticography (ECoG) Direct Brain Interface for Individuals with Upper Limb Paralysis

Study Goal

Electrocorticography (ECoG) records neural activity from the surface of the brain. Previous studies have shown that control signals can be extracted from this neural data and used to control external devices with multiple degrees of freedom. Here we aim to test an ECoG-based direct brain interface (DBI) to control computer cursors, virtual hands, computer games, and assistive devices such as hand orthoses, functional electrical stimulators, and wheechairs, using neural activity recorded with the ECoG grid.

The goal of this study is to demonstrate successful control of these devices using an ECoG-based DBI in individuals with limited or no ability to use one or both hands. We will also investigate the potential of cortical stimulation to restore somatosensation. Ultimately, we hope to develop a fully-implantable system that can be surgically implanted permanently and operated independently by the end-user.

Study Summary

In this research study, a person’s own movement related brain signals are decoded and used to control computer cursors and assistive technologies, such as a robotic arm. Brain signals are picked up using an FDA-approved electricorticography (ECoG) sensor surgically placed on the surface of the brain for 4 weeks.

While the sensor is implanted, our research team will conduct BCI training sessions for 5-6 days per week. The purpose of training is to learn to use neural (brain) activity to control computer cursors, video games and assistive technology. After approximately 4 weeks, the ECoG sensor will be removed.

Placement of the ECoG sensor is temporary to evaluate its effectiveness, therefore there is no direct benefit to the participant. 

Individuals will be compensated for their research participation.

Inclusion Criteria

  • Do you have limited ability to use one or both hands due to cervical spinal cord injury, brachial plexus injury, brainstem stroke, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or amyotrophic lateral schlerosis (ALS) or other motor neuron disease? 
  • For individuals with spinal cord injury, brachial plexus injury or brainstem stroke, did this occur at least 1 year ago? 
  • Are you between the ages of 18 and 70? 
  • Are you able to communicate in English?

Exclusion Criteria

  • Subjects should not have visual impairment that would affect ability to view a computer monitor (glasses are OK).
  • Subjects must not have any serious disease or disorder that could affect their ability to participate in this study (i.e. bleeding disorders, lumphatic disease).
  • Subjects must not have a recent history of pressure sores that could be exacerbated by 1-2 days of bed rest.
  • Female subjects of childbearing age must not be pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Subjects must not have had a stroke caused by a surgical procedure.

Principal Investigator

Jennifer Collinger, PhD

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Additional Information

Study Brochure