Voluntary Self-Regulation NIRS-BCI with Continuous Real-Time Feedback

Abdoli, Rozita 1, 2;  Chau, Tom 1, 2

1. Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; 2. Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada

Individuals with severe motor impairment are often unable to perform everyday tasks independently. Brain computer interfaces (BCIs) provide these individuals with a means of access to communication in the absence of speech and body language. BCIs use detectable changes in neurophysiological signals to control external communication and mobility enhancing devices.

One limitation of current BCIs is their dependence on the performance of a mental task, such as a verbal fluency task or mental math. Mental tasks are often necessary for the correct classification of the neural signal inputs to a BCI. However, they can be non-intuitive in the context of a communication activity. A more intuitive and usable BCI might be one where the user can voluntarily control the BCI device without the need to perform a mental task.

Voluntary self-regulation of BCI devices have been studied using electroencephalography (EEG). However, there is very limited research on voluntary self-regulation using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), an access modality that is gaining popularity in the BCI field. In addition, most BCI research to date, including self-regulation BCIs, have focused exclusively on the adult populations. Here, it is hypothesized that effective voluntary self-regulation can be achieved in individuals aged 13 to 18 using the NIRS-BCI access modality.

It is anticipated that this study will shed light on the possibility of transitioning from task-based NIRS-BCI to self-regulated NIRS-BCI in a pediatric population by providing a continuous, real-time feedback.