Direct Brain Interface Laboratory



Controlling tilt/recline functions of wheelchair using BCI Operating assistive technology using BCI Setting up EEG and BCI for operation Switch-tasks controlled via BCI

The University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface (UM-DBI) Laboratory has a strong focus on making brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) practical for people who need them. The UM-DBI lab combines many years of BCI research and close clinical ties to assistive technology service delivery with a strong engineering background. The UM-DBI laboratory was co-founded by Dr. Simon Levine and Dr. Jane Huggins, the current principal investigator. The term Direct Brain Interface is intended to emphasize the function of the BCI as a direct connection between the human brain and various kinds of technologies (not just computers). With funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the Department of Education and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the UM-DBI laboratory pioneered BCI research based on electrocorticogram (ECoG) from electrodes implanted inside the skull. In recent years, the UM-DBI Laboratory has focused on non-invasive BCIs using electroencephalogram (EEG) with funding from the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR), the Mildred E. Swanson Foundation, NIH, and NIDRR.

The UM-DBI laboratory's close clinical ties have fueled a desire to see the rapid advance of some form of BCI to clinical availability and an awareness of the limited nature of many of the BCI-specific applications developed for BCI operation. Funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the NIH enabled the creation of a BCI that can operate as a plug-and-play replacement for a standard USB keyboard as well as providing access to other assistive technology and the development of novel BCI control capabilities. Funding from NIDRR enabled study of the BCI design priorities and preferences of people with a variety of disabling conditions as well as testing with a variety of potential BCI users. Current funding from MICHR and the Mildred E. Swanson Foundation are enabling development of a BCI for cognitive testing. Future research directions include interfacing BCIs to commercially available assistive technologies, improving BCI response time and no-control performance, identifying features and support necessary for successful independent BCI use by people with physical impairments, identifying the design preferences and priorities of potential BCI users, BCI applications in cognitive testing, and the identification and accommodation of user-specific characteristics that affect BCI function.


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