Volitional control of single-electrode high gamma local field potentials by people with paralysis

J Neurophysiol. 2019 Apr 1;121(4):1428-1450. doi: 10.1152/jn.00131.2018. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


Intracortical brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) can enable individuals to control effectors, such as a computer cursor, by directly decoding the user's movement intentions from action potentials and local field potentials (LFPs) recorded within the motor cortex. However, the accuracy and complexity of effector control achieved with such "biomimetic" BCIs will depend on the degree to which the intended movements used to elicit control modulate the neural activity. In particular, channels that do not record distinguishable action potentials and only record LFP modulations may be of limited use for BCI control. In contrast, a biofeedback approach may surpass these limitations by letting the participants generate new control signals and learn strategies that improve the volitional control of signals used for effector control. Here, we show that, by using a biofeedback paradigm, three individuals with tetraplegia achieved volitional control of gamma LFPs (40-400 Hz) recorded by a single microelectrode implanted in the precentral gyrus. Control was improved over a pair of consecutive sessions up to 3 days apart. In all but one session, the channel used to achieve control lacked distinguishable action potentials. Our results indicate that biofeedback LFP-based BCIs may potentially contribute to the neural modulation necessary to obtain reliable and useful control of effectors. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our study demonstrates that people with tetraplegia can volitionally control individual high-gamma local-field potential (LFP) channels recorded from the motor cortex, and that this control can be improved using biofeedback. Motor cortical LFP signals are thought to be both informative and stable intracortical signals and, thus, of importance for future brain-computer interfaces.

Keywords: biofeedback; brain-computer interface; local field potentials; motor cortex; people with tetraplegia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces*
  • Electrodes, Implanted / adverse effects
  • Electrodes, Implanted / standards
  • Feedback, Physiological
  • Gamma Rhythm*
  • Humans
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Movement
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology*
  • Quadriplegia / rehabilitation