fNIRS and Brain-Computer Interfaces for Communication

fNIRS and Brain-Computer Interfaces for Communication

An essential webinar for all BCI researchers: fNIRS enables the read out of voluntarily controlled brain states in real time and opens a communication channel with completely locked-in patients, otherwise isolated from the external world.

Neural activity is accompanied by a hemodynamic (vascular) responses that is sensitive to a host of features of coordinated brain function. Relating these measures to the seemingly endless breadth of human behavior is a principal aim of many scientific investigations.  Fortunately, learning, language acquisition, sensory and motor functions, emotion, social interactions, and the influence of a host of disease processes can all be explored from measures of the functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) signal.  Wearable fNIRS technology exists that is portable, safe and easy to use, resistant to motion artifacts and can be employed in a subjects natural environment.

A promising application for fNIRS is the design of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) for communication with completely locked-in patients. In the so called ‘locked-in’ state, fully conscious and awake patients are unable to communicate naturally due to severe motor paralysis. These patients are, however, able to modulate their brain activity which can be decoded and understood by exploring the fNIRS signal.

In this exclusive webinar sponsored by NIRx Medical Technologies, discussion will focus on the basic principles of fNIRS and BCI, technical setup and guidelines for running a successful fNIRS study and a comparison of fNIRS with other functional neuroimaging methods. Experts will highlight their groundbreaking research in the field of fNIRS based BCI for communication with healthy subjects and patients in a completely locked-in state. Specifically, Dr. Ujwal Chaudhary (University of Tübingen) will share results of his research with healthy participants and patients with locked-in syndrome due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Dr. Bettina Sorger (Maastricht University) will present data from a recent study demonstrating the feasibility of a multiple-choice fNIRS-based communication BCI using differently-timed motor imagery as an information-encoding strategy.

Key topics covered during this webinar will include:

  • BCI: technical setup, suited functional neuroimaging methods, information encoding and decoding
  • fNIRS as a safe, easy to apply and portable functional neuroimaging method
  • Comparison of fNIRS with other functional neuroimaging methods for communication BCI
  • Yes/no and multiple choice fNIRS-based communication with healthy subjects and patients

Click to watch the webinar recording. To view the presentation full screen simply click the square icon located in the bottom-right corner of the video-viewer.

To download a PDF copy of the presentation, click on the “LinkedIn SlideShare” icon located in the bottom-right corner of the slide-viewer. From the SlideShare landing page click the “Download” button to retrieve the file.

Bettina Sorger, PhD

Assistant Professor,
Maastricht University, The Netherlands
Department of Cognitive Neuroscience
Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience

During her time as a PhD student and postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Bettina Sorger has implemented clinical applications of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), developed BCIs based on real-time fMRI and has applied fMRI-based communication in non-responsive patients. Since taking a position at Maastricht University in 2011, she is heading the local hemodynamic BCI research group and has worked in several fields of fundamental and clinical neuroscience with a particular focus on extending fMRI-based communication BCIs to various sensory modalities (visual, auditory, and tactile) and transferring these methods to mobile fNIRS. Another focus of her current research is the implementation of hemodynamic brain signals for neurofeedback (therapy).

Ujwal Chaudhary, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher,
University of Tübingen, Germany
Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology

Dr. Ujwal Chaudhary is a postdoctoral researcher and Group Leader at the University of Tübingen. Dr. Chaudhary’s postdoctoral work involves the development and application of a simultaneous fNIRS and EEG-based brain-computer interface system to help ALS patients in a complete locked-in state with communication. Dr. Chaudhary’s groundbreaking research applying fNIRS-based BCIs for communicating with patients in a locked-in state has been featured by several high-profile media outlets including CNN and the BBC.

Interesting Links:

CNN article highlighting Dr. Ujwal Chaudhary’s work on decoding the thoughts of patients who can’t even blink
Updated February 1, 2017

An interesting YouTube video from Maastricht University involving Dr. Bettina Sorger where they use fNIRS-based BCI for Robot Control
Published in March 2015, this demonstration explains and illustrates the conception of automated autonomous intention execution (AutInEx) and the implementation of robot-control BCI based on functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)