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Brain-Computer Interfacing [In the Spotlight]

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2 Author(s)
Rajesh P. N. Rao ; An associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. ; Reinhold Scherer

Recently, CNN reported on the future of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). BCIs are devices that process a user's brain signals to allow direct communication and interaction with the environment. BCIs bypass the normal neuromuscular output pathways and rely on digital signal processing and machine learning to translate brain signals to action (Figure 1). Historically, BCIs were developed with biomedical applications in mind, such as restoring communication in completely paralyzed individuals and replacing lost motor function. More recent applications have targeted nondisabled individuals by exploring the use of BCIs as a novel input device for entertainment and gaming. The task of the BCI is to identify and predict behaviorally induced changes or "cognitive states" in a user's brain signals. Brain signals are recorded either noninvasively from electrodes placed on the scalp [electroencephalogram (EEG)] or invasively from electrodes placed on the surface of or inside the brain. BCIs based on these recording techniques have allowed healthy and disabled individuals to control a variety of devices. In this article, we will describe different challenges and proposed solutions for noninvasive brain-computer interfacing.

Published in:

IEEE Signal Processing Magazine  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 4 )