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Front Neuroeng. 2014 Jul 3;7:21. doi: 10.3389/fneng.2014.00021. eCollection 2014.

Brain-computer interface game applications for combined neurofeedback and biofeedback treatment for children on the autism spectrum.

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Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego La Jolla, CA, USA.
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, UK.
School of Engineering and Physical Science, Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, UK.


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show deficits in social and communicative skills, including imitation, empathy, and shared attention, as well as restricted interests and repetitive patterns of behaviors. Evidence for and against the idea that dysfunctions in the mirror neuron system are involved in imitation and could be one underlying cause for ASD is discussed in this review. Neurofeedback interventions have reduced symptoms in children with ASD by self-regulation of brain rhythms. However, cortical deficiencies are not the only cause of these symptoms. Peripheral physiological activity, such as the heart rate and its variability, is closely linked to neurophysiological signals and associated with social engagement. Therefore, a combined approach targeting the interplay between brain, body, and behavior could be more effective. Brain-computer interface applications for combined neurofeedback and biofeedback treatment for children with ASD are currently nonexistent. To facilitate their use, we have designed an innovative game that includes social interactions and provides neural- and body-based feedback that corresponds directly to the underlying significance of the trained signals as well as to the behavior that is reinforced.


autism spectrum disorder (ASD); brain–computer interface (BCI); games; heart rate variability; mirror neuron system; mu rhythm; neurofeedback and biofeedback training; social engagement system

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