Combining BMI and neural stimulation

for restoration of sensory-motor function

A half-day wokshop at the
June 6th, 8h30-12h00, Sanderling Room
Asilomar, CA, USA



A brain-machine interface (BMI) typically relies on registering and decoding electric neuronal activity to control external devices. This workshop focuses on what may be seen as its counterpart: stimulation of electric neuronal activity – both at central and peripheral levels – for complementing the use of BMIs for restoring sensory or motor functions.

On one hand, BMI could be used to control of peripheral neuronal stimulation, effectively substituting impaired neural pathways to restore motor functions in patients suffering from e.g. paralysis of upper limbs. Furthermore, it has been hypothesized that this coordinated stimulation at central and peripheral levels can help in neurorehabilitation. On the other hand, invasive cortical microstimulation can be utilized to provide  somatosensory feedback substituting or enhancing sensory capabilities, in what has been termed a bi-directional BCI.

However, these challenging goals do not exhaust the possibilities. Techniques like transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) modify neuronal excitability, potentially influencing the modulation of electrophysiological patterns exploited by BMI. Current research addresses the question whether such stimulation does facilitate BMI control or improve its performance. In addition, they also assess if these techniques can selectively enhance the activity of physiologically targeted brain areas, an interesting property for BMI-assisted neurorehabilitation.

The workshop will overview the current state of the art, discuss the benefits, disadvantages and difficulties of the different methods to prepare the ground for a successful combination of BMI and stimulation techniques – both as a facilitator of BMI control and as a mean to effectively close the BMI loop.


Stanisa RASPOPOVICSilvestro MICERA, TNE, Center for Neuroprosthetics, EPFL, Switzerland

Kai Keng ANG, Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore

Joseph E. O’DOHERTY, The University of California, San Francisco, USA

Ricardo CHAVARRIAGA, CNBI, Center for Neuroprosthetics, EPFL, Switzerland 

Target Audience

The workshop is targeted towards both novice and experienced researchers in the field of brain- computer interfaces. No special background is needed.

Each participant will be asked to provide a short description (1 slide) about his/her research and up to 3 major points he/she wants to see addressed in this workshop beforehand. Selected contributions will be presented during the workshop as spotlights to trigger targeted discussion among participants.


K. K. Ang, et al. Transcranial direct current stimulation and EEG-based motor imagery BCI for upper limb stroke rehabilitation. Int Conference IEEE/EMBS, p. 4128 -4131, 2012

R. Chavarriaga, et al. tDCS Modulates Motor Imagery-Related BCI Features. Converging Clinical and Engineering Research on Neurorehabilitation, vol. 1, p. 647-651, 2012

S. Micera, et al.. Wearable Neural Prostheses Restoration of Sensory-Motor Function by Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation, in IEEE Engineering In Medicine And Biology Magazine, vol. 29, p. 64-69, 2010.

O’Doherty, J.E., et al. Active tactile exploration using a brain-machine-brain interface.
Nature, vol. 479, num. 7372, p. 228-231, 2011.

R. Van Den Brand, et al. Restoring Voluntary Control of Locomotion after Paralyzing Spinal Cord Injury, in Science, vol. 336, num. 6085, p. 1182-1185, 2012.


Robert Leeb, José del R. Millán
Defitech Foundation Chair in Non-invasive Brain-machine Interface
Center for Neuroprosthetics, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland