Brain-machine interface via real-time fMRI: preliminary study on thought-controlled robotic arm.

Date Published:

2009 Jan 23

Abstract:

Real-time functional MRI (rtfMRI) has been used as a basis for brain-computer interface (BCI) due to its ability to characterize region-specific brain activity in real-time. As an extension of BCI, we present an rtfMRI-based brain-machine interface (BMI) whereby 2-dimensional movement of a robotic arm was controlled by the regulation (and concurrent detection) of regional cortical activations in the primary motor areas. To do so, the subjects were engaged in the right- and/or left-hand motor imagery tasks. The blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal originating from the corresponding hand motor areas was then translated into horizontal or vertical robotic arm movement. The movement was broadcasted visually back to the subject as a feedback. We demonstrated that real-time control of the robotic arm only through the subjects' thought processes was possible using the rtfMRI-based BMI trials.