APRIL 16, 2019

Brain-computer interfaces: decoding of locomotion

Nikolay Pirogov
13:30 14:00

Neurophysiology of locomotion has been long dominated by the dogma stating that the most important role in locomotion is played by the central pattern generators located in the spinal cord and brainstem, whereas the cortex only issues high-level commands like start and stop walking. Yet, the studies of Irina Beloozerova and her colleagues have shown that cat motor cortex is highly active during locomotion, and cortical activity tracks every step. Moreover, cortical activity increases during challenging tasks like walking on a ladder. These results suggest that cortical signals could be used in brain-computer interfaces that enable walking. To test this hypothesis, Lebedev and his colleagues recorded neuronal-population activity in sensorimotor cortex of monkeys walking on a treadmill bipedally; discharges of several hundred neurons were sampled simultaneously. It was found that cortical neurons exhibited activity patterns that were informative of the walking parameters, such as joint angles of the lower limbs. These parameters could be decoded from the population activity. The decoding of locomotion parameters was performed in real time, and it was shown that a monkey could control walking in an anthropomorphic robot. Additionally, monkeys could operate and exoskeleton by their cortical modulations. These results suggest that invasive multichannel recordings are a powerful method for restoring walking in paralyzed patients. Currently, approaches for invasive recordings in humans are being developed, and electrocorticographic recordings appear to be the most practical method for rehabilitation of people with lower-limb deficits. Electroencephalographic recordings can be useful for this purpose, as well

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Noninvasive and minimally invasive brain-computer interfaces for neurorehabilitation

Nikolay Pirogov
14:00 14:30


Chief Research Scientist,
National Research University Higher School of Economics