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Using a Hybrid Brain Computer Interface and Virtual Reality System to Monitor and Promote Cortical Reorganization through Motor Activity and Motor Imagery Training

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4 Author(s)

Stroke is one of the leading causes of adult disability with high economical and societal costs. In recent years, novel rehabilitation paradigms have been proposed to address the life-long plasticity of the brain to regain motor function. We propose a hybrid brain-computer interface (BCI)-reality (VR) system that combines a personalized motor training in a VR environment, exploiting brain mechanisms for action execution and observation, and a neuro-feedback paradigm using mental imagery as a way to engage secondary or indirect pathways to access undamaged cortico-spinal tracts. Furthermore, we present the development and validation experiments of the proposed system. More specifically, EEG data on nine naïve healthy subjects show that a simultaneous motor activity and motor imagery paradigm is more effective at engaging cortical motor areas and related networks to a larger extent. Additionally, we propose a motor imagery driven BCI-VR version of our system that was evaluated with nine different healthy subjects. Data show that users are capable of controlling a virtual avatar in a motor imagery training task that dynamically adjusts its difficulty to the capabilities of the user. User self-report questionnaires indicate enjoyment and acceptance of the proposed system.

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Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 2 )