Skip to Main Content
Voluntarily modulating neural activity plays a key role in brain-computer interface (BCI). In general, the self-regulated neural activation patterns are used in the current BCI systems involving the repetitive trainings with feedback for an attempt to achieve a high-quality control performance. With the limitation posed by the training procedure in most BCI studies, the present work aims to investigate whether directly modulating the neural activity by using an external method could facilitate the BCI control. We designed an experimental paradigm that combines anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with a motor imagery (MI)-based feedback EEG BCI system. Thirty-two young and healthy human subjects were randomly assigned to the real and sham stimulation groups to evaluate the effect of tDCS-induced EEG pattern changes on BCI classification accuracy. Results showed that the anodal tDCS obviously induces sensorimotor rhythm (SMR)-related event-related desynchronization (ERD) pattern changes in the upper-mu (10-14 Hz) and beta (14-26 Hz) rhythm components. Both the online and offline BCI classification results demonstrate that the enhancing ERD patterns could conditionally improve BCI performance. This pilot study suggests that the tDCS is a promising method to help the users to develop reliable BCI control strategy in a relatively short time.