Non-invasive Brain-computer Interfaces for Control of Assistive Devices

Study Purpose:

A brain-computer interface (BCI) decodes users' behavioral intentions or mental states directly from their brain activity, thus allowing operation of devices without requiring any overt motor action. One major modality for BCI control is based on motor imagery (MI), which is the mental rehearsal of the kinesthetics of a movement without actually performing it. MI-based BCIs translate motor intents into control commands for external devices. A major challenge in such BCIs is differentiating MI patterns corresponding to fine hand movements of the same limb from non-invasive EEG recordings with low spatial resolution since the cortical sources responsible for these movements are overlapping. In this study, the investigators hypothesize that neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) applied contingent to the voluntary activation of the primary motor cortex through MI can help differentiate patterns of activity associated with different hand movements of the same limb by consistently recruiting the separate neural pathways associated with each of the movements within a closed-loop BCI setup. This is expected to be associated with neuroplastic changes at the cortical or corticospinal levels.

Study Status:



Motor Disorders , Healthy , Spinal Cord Injuries , Muscular Diseases , Motor Neuron Disease , Stroke , Traumatic Brain Injury , Movement Disorders

Study Type:


Type of Intervention:


Intervention Name:





Study Chair(s)/Principal Investigator(s):

Jose del R. Millan, PhD, The University of Texas at Austin ID:


Neals Affiliated?


Coordinating Center Contact Information

The University of Texas at Austin

Jose del R. Millan, PhD / email hidden; JavaScript is required / 512-232-8111

Austin, Texas, 78712 United States

Study Sponsor:

University of Texas at Austin

Estimated Enrollment:


Estimated Study Start Date:

06 / 16 / 2021

Estimated Study Completion Date:

12 / 30 / 2023

Posting Last Modified Date:

12 / 05 / 2022

Date Study Added to

01 / 10 / 2022

Minimum Age:

18 Years

Maximum Age:

80 Years

Can participants use Riluzole?


Inclusion Criteria:

- Able-bodied participants:

- good general health

- normal or corrected vision

- no history of neurological/psychiatric disease

- ability to read and understand English (Research Personnel do not speak Spanish)

- Subjects with motor disabilities

- motor deficits due to: unilateral and bilateral stroke / spinal cord injury / motor neuron diseases (i.e. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spino-cerebellar ataxia, multiple sclerosis) / muscular diseases (i.e. myopathy) / traumatic or neurological pain / movement disorders (i.e. cerebral palsy) / orthopedic / traumatic brain injury / brain tumors

- normal or corrected vision

- ability to read and understand English (Research Personnel do not speak Spanish)

- ability to provide informed consent

Exclusion Criteria:

- Subjects with motor disabilities

- short attentional spans or cognitive deficits that prevent to remain concentrated during the whole experimental session

- heavy medication affecting the central nervous system (including vigilance)

- concomitant serious illness (e.g., metabolic disorders)

- All participants

- factors hindering EEG/EMG acquisition and FES/tdCS/tACS delivery (e.g., skin infection, wounds, dermatitis, metal implants under electrodes)

- criteria identified in safety guidelines for MRI and TMS, in particular metallic implants

The University of Texas at Austin | Recruiting

Jose del R. Millan, PhD / 512-232-8111 / email hidden; JavaScript is required

Hussein Alawieh / 5123730535 / email hidden; JavaScript is required

Austin, Texas 78712
United States