Using ipsilateral motor signals in the unaffected cerebral hemisphere as a signal platform for brain-computer interfaces in hemiplegic stroke survivors

David T. Bundy, Mark Wronkiewicz, Mohit Sharma, Daniel W. Moran, Maurizio Corbetta, Eric C. Leuthardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Brain-computer interface (BCI) systems have emerged as a method to restore function and enhance communication in motor impaired patients. To date, this has been applied primarily to patients who have a compromised motor outflow due to spinal cord dysfunction, but an intact and functioning cerebral cortex. The cortical physiology associated with movement of the contralateral limb has typically been the signal substrate that has been used as a control signal. While this is an ideal control platform in patients with an intact motor cortex, these signals are lost after a hemispheric stroke. Thus, a different control signal is needed that could provide control capability for a patient with a hemiparetic limb. Previous studies have shown that there is a distinct cortical physiology associated with ipsilateral, or same-sided, limb movements. Thus far, it was unknown whether stroke survivors could intentionally and effectively modulate this ipsilateral motor activity from their unaffected hemisphere. Therefore, this study seeks to evaluate whether stroke survivors could effectively utilize ipsilateral motor activity from their unaffected hemisphere to achieve this BCI control. To investigate this possibility, electroencephalographic (EEG) signals were recorded from four chronic hemispheric stroke patients as they performed (or attempted to perform) real and imagined hand tasks using either their affected or unaffected hand. Following performance of the screening task, the ability of patients to utilize a BCI system was investigated during on-line control of a one-dimensional control task. Significant ipsilateral motor signals (associated with movement intentions of the affected hand) in the unaffected hemisphere, which were found to be distinct from rest and contralateral signals, were identified and subsequently used for a simple online BCI control task. We demonstrate here for the first time that EEG signals from the unaffected hemisphere, associated with overt and imagined movements of the affected hand, can enable stroke survivors to control a one-dimensional computer cursor rapidly and accurately. This ipsilateral motor activity enabled users to achieve final target accuracies between 68% and 91% within 15 min. These findings suggest that ipsilateral motor activity from the unaffected hemisphere in stroke survivors could provide a physiological substrate for BCI operation that can be further developed as a long-term assistive device or potentially provide a novel tool for rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036011
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


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