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C4DM Seminar: Yvonne Blokland - Towards a Brain-Computer Interface for awareness detection

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Date and Time
Wednesday, 11th May 2016, at 3:00pm

Room ENG 209, Electronic Engineering building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS. Information on how to access the school can be found at here.

Yvonne Blokland

Towards a Brain-Computer Interface for awareness detection

Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) are systems directly translating brain signals into useful output, such as control of a device. By eliminating the need for muscular control, BCIs can therefore provide a means of interaction with the environment for partially or completely paralysed patients. One of the best known and most successful BCI paradigms is detection of changes in sensorimotor rhythms from the electroencephalogram (EEG) during attempted and imagined movement. For instance, attempted movements can be detected from patients with tetraplegia, who may use this task for control of a neuroprosthesis. Likewise, motor tasks may be used as a diagnostic tool in determining states of altered consciousness in patients recovering from coma.

One group of patients that has thus far not been considered as potential BCI users are people undergoing surgery under general anaesthesia. If a patient awakes during surgery, but is paralysed because of a neuromuscular block, he or she may be considered to be in a temporary locked-in state: conscious but nevertheless unable to move or speak. The phenomenon of awareness during general anaesthesia is a source of anxiety, stress and other psychological problems, and one of the greatest challenges in anaesthesia research. Therefore, I propose to extend BCI research into the domain of anaesthesia monitoring. If BCIs can be used for awareness detection in patients with locked-in syndrome or disorders of consciousness, potentially the technology could be applied to detect intraoperative awareness as well.

In this talk I will first describe the methods, challenges and future prospects of BCI technology in general. Then, I will focus on my research on the development of a movement-based BCI to detect intraoperative awareness.

(For those who are also in CogSci: this talk will be more or less the same as the one I gave at the Seminar in January).

Yvonne Blokland is a postdoc in the Music Cognition Lab. She studied Cognitive Artificial Intelligence at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and then joined the Brain-Computer Interface Lab in Nijmegen before moving to London. Using mostly neuroscientific methods, but sometimes borrowing from the fields of AI and philosophy, she studies music, consciousness, BCI, and anything vaguely related to any of these topics.

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