In Kathy Louise Ruddy’s lab at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, brain-computer interfaces (BCI) are used to study the brain, improve aspects of human behavior, and generate evidence of the efficacy of a new technique in stroke rehabilitation.
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For people who are recovering from stroke, there’s a new therapeutic technique being researched that could hold great promise: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS is a type of BCI that magnetically stimulates the brain to cause a response (i.e. movement) in the muscle. These responses are recorded and used as feedback for the BCI, which enables the user to see and control those responses using various strategies.
For example, if the user wants to increase the intensity of the muscle response in a finger, they might imagine forcibly pushing an object with that hand; if the user wants to decrease the intensity of the muscle response, they might imagine that their hand is cold or detached from the body. The hope is that when this is applied to the affected limb of a stroke patient, it will build and strengthen the neural pathways that were used to trigger movement in the muscle prior to the stroke, thereby increasing function and use of the affected limb.
Ruddy discusses all the details of this technique and more, including past and upcoming research, results and feedback from research subjects, the use of electroencephalography to train users to control their brainwaves/neural oscillations, and what the near and long-term goals look like for Ruddy’s team.
Learn more by visiting http://translationalbrainhealth.com/.
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