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J Neurosurg. 2011 Jun;114(6):1715-22. doi: 10.3171/2011.1.JNS101421. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Real-time control of a prosthetic hand using human electrocorticography signals.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Osaka University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.



A brain-machine interface (BMI) offers patients with severe motor disabilities greater independence by controlling external devices such as prosthetic arms. Among the available signal sources for the BMI, electrocorticography (ECoG) provides a clinically feasible signal with long-term stability and low clinical risk. Although ECoG signals have been used to infer arm movements, no study has examined its use to control a prosthetic arm in real time. The authors present an integrated BMI system for the control of a prosthetic hand using ECoG signals in a patient who had suffered a stroke. This system used the power modulations of the ECoG signal that are characteristic during movements of the patient's hand and enabled control of the prosthetic hand with movements that mimicked the patient's hand movements.


A poststroke patient with subdural electrodes placed over his sensorimotor cortex performed 3 types of simple hand movements following a sound cue (calibration period). Time-frequency analysis was performed with the ECoG signals to select 3 frequency bands (1-8, 25-40, and 80-150 Hz) that revealed characteristic power modulation during the movements. Using these selected features, 2 classifiers (decoders) were trained to predict the movement state--that is, whether the patient was moving his hand or not--and the movement type based on a linear support vector machine. The decoding accuracy was compared among the 3 frequency bands to identify the most informative features. With the trained decoders, novel ECoG signals were decoded online while the patient performed the same task without cues (free-run period). According to the results of the real-time decoding, the prosthetic hand mimicked the patient's hand movements.


Offline cross-validation analysis of the ECoG data measured during the calibration period revealed that the state and movement type of the patient's hand were predicted with an accuracy of 79.6% (chance 50%) and 68.3% (chance 33.3%), respectively. Using the trained decoders, the onset of the hand movement was detected within 0.37 ± 0.29 seconds of the actual movement. At the detected onset timing, the type of movement was inferred with an accuracy of 69.2%. In the free-run period, the patient's hand movements were faithfully mimicked by the prosthetic hand in real time.


The present integrated BMI system successfully decoded the hand movements of a poststroke patient and controlled a prosthetic hand in real time. This success paves the way for the restoration of the patient's motor function using a prosthetic arm controlled by a BMI using ECoG signals.

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