It is crucial to understand what brain signals can be decoded from single trials with different recording techniques for the development of Brain-Machine Interfaces. A specific challenge for non-invasive recording methods are activations confined to small spatial areas on the cortex such as the finger representation of one hand. Here we study the information content of single trial brain activity in non-invasive MEG and EEG recordings elicited by finger movements of one hand. We investigate the feasibility of decoding which of four fingers of one hand performed a slight button press. With MEG we demonstrate reliable discrimination of single button presses performed with the thumb, the index, the middle or the little finger (average over all subjects and fingers 57%, best subject 70%, empirical guessing level: 25.1%). EEG decoding performance was less robust (average over all subjects and fingers 43%, best subject 54%, empirical guessing level 25.1%). Spatiotemporal patterns of amplitude variations in the time series provided best information for discriminating finger movements. Non-phase-locked changes of mu and beta oscillations were less predictive. Movement related high gamma oscillations were observed in average induced oscillation amplitudes in the MEG but did not provide sufficient information about the finger's identity in single trials. Importantly, pre-movement neuronal activity provided information about the preparation of the movement of a specific finger. Our study demonstrates the potential of non-invasive MEG to provide informative features for individual finger control in a Brain-Machine Interface neuroprosthesis.
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