2018/10 Improving Real-Time Lower Limb Motor Imagery Detection Using tDCS and an Exoskeleton


“The aim of this work was to test if a novel transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) montage boosts the accuracy of lower limb motor imagery (MI) detection by using a real-time brain-machine interface (BMI) based on electroencephalographic (EEG) signals. The tDCS montage designed was composed of two anodes and one cathode: one anode over the right cerebrocerebellum, the other over the motor cortex in Cz, and the cathode over FC2 (using the International 10–10 system). The BMI was designed to detect two MI states: relax and gait MI; and was based on finding the power at the frequency which attained the maximum power difference between the two mental states at each selected EEG electrode. Two different single-blind experiments were conducted, E1 and a pilot test E2. E1 was based on visual cues and feedback and E2 was based on auditory cues and a lower limb exoskeleton as feedback. Twelve subjects participated in E1, while four did so in E2. For both experiments, subjects were separated into two equally-sized groups: sham and active tDCS. The active tDCS group achieved 12.6 and 8.2% higher detection accuracy than the sham group in E1 and E2, respectively, reaching 65 and 81.6% mean detection accuracy in each experiment. The limited results suggest that the exoskeleton (E2) enhanced the detection of the MI tasks with respect to the visual feedback (E1), increasing the accuracy obtained in 16.7 and 21.2% for the active tDCS and sham groups, respectively. Thus, the small pilot study E2 indicates that using an exoskeleton in real-time has the potential of improving the rehabilitation process of cerebrovascular accident (CVA) patients, but larger studies are needed in order to further confirm this claim”