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BrainGain (SmartMix)

Brain-Computer and Computer-Brain Interfaces, devices for measuring and modifying brain activity for healthy users and patients.

Project Manager: Prof. dr. ir. Anton Nijholt
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science - EEMCS
Tel.: +31-53-4893686
Email: a.nijholt@utwente.nl

Project website: BrainGain



Continuing global research in neuroscience and brain imaging has lead to such substantial progress that it has become possible to decipher important aspects of the neural coding. This allows tracking of mental processes by measuring brain activity and modifying that same activity by feedback training or artificial stimulation. The potential of this technology is enormous. Online real-time analysis makes it possible to control devices and prostheses directly by thinking or by imagining movement. This offers a crucial improvement in the quality of life of e.g. ALS patients who, without such help, cannot move or communicate at all. Also larger patients groups (like stroke and traumatic spinal cord lesions) can benefit from such developments. New methods of assessment and therapy also emerge for various neuro-psychiatric disorders, as it turns out that, by providing the appropriate feedback, modification of brain activity can be learned. This may reduce auditory hallucinations, improve self-control and reduce other symptoms of ADHD, or diminish pain. Alternatively, stimulating the brain artificially can improve symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and reduce epileptic seizures. This technology has many applications for healthy users too, to increase or augment their performance. It allows for adapting interfaces to the state of the user, e.g. presenting new information only when visual attention of air traffic controllers or security personnel allows for it. In the long run the technology may change the way we interact with computers in general. For some consumer products (like computer games) the market potential is untapped and huge. Though internationally spectacular breakthroughs are reported, achieving large press coverage, the progress in exploiting the new discoveries in products and effective therapies, is still slow. This is because many scientific and technological problems need to be addressed in an interdisciplinary way, demanding a large interdisciplinary effort of many parties.

This proposal aims to develop a coherent new technology for both Brain-Computer and Computer-Brain-interfaces and to design and evaluate a set of products and therapies based on this new method. We bring together a consortium of the most eminent scientists and research groups, key industrial partners (very large, as well as moderate and small sized), medical centers, thorough innovation management, transfer expertise (STW, TNO), as well as user- and patient-groups. Partners will contribute their core expertise and enthousiasm to a network of horizontal (e.g. comparing results using implanted electrodes with results of more gentle non-invasive methods) and vertical (e.g. linking universities and companies) connections. This network of collaborations forms a solid ground for innovation and is in itself part of the aim and in fact, it has already begun to take shape in this early stage of the consortium. The outstanding brain-research in the Netherlands is finally taking the opportunity to be the first to create and develop these high-tech markets and fuel economic innovation.

HMI coordinates the theme” "BCI for Healthy Users", Anton Nijholt is project manager of this theme.

Project duration: 1-4-2007 / 1-4-2011
Project budget: 24 M-€ / 14.6 M-€ funding
Number of person/years:  
Project Coordinator: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (NICI)
Participants: RU Nijmegen Institute of Cognition and Information (NICI), RU Institute for Computing and Information Sciences (ICIS), F.C. Donders Center for Neuroimaging (FCDC), Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (MPI), UT Human Media Interaction (HMI), UT Institute for Biomedical Technology (BMTI), UM Cognitive Neuroscience, UMCN Neurology/ Clinical Neurophysiology, UMCN Psychiatry, UMCU Neurosurgery, UM Neurosurgery, Sint Maartenskliniek, TNO Human Factors, Stichting Technologische Wetenschap (STW), Dialogic, Philips, Siemens, Artinis Medical Systems, TMS international, Gewa Nederland, Revalidatietechniek Het Dorp (RTD), Parkinson Patiëntenverenigingen, ALS Stichting, Epilepsie Vereniging.
Project budget CTIT: 1.6 M-€ / 1.1 M-€ funding
Number of person/years CTIT:  
Involved groups: Human Media Interaction (HMI)