15 May 2019
It is an emerging frontier of research on the use of neural signals for prosthesis control, in order to restore lost function to amputees and patients after spinal cord injury. Compared to the invasive neural signal based brain-machine interface (BMI), a non-invasive alternative, i.e., the electroencephalogram (EEG)-based BMI would be more widely accepted by the patients above. Ideally, a real-time continuous neuroprosthestic control is required for practical applications. However, conventional EEG-based BMIs mainly deal with the discrete brain activity classification. Until recently, the literature has reported several attempts for achieving the real-time continuous control by reconstructing the continuous movement parameters (e.g., speed, position, etc.) from the EEG recordings, and the low-frequency band EEG is consistently reported to encode the continuous motor control information. Previous studies with executed movement tasks have extensively relied on the amplitude representation of such slow oscillations of EEG signals for building models to decode kinematic parameters. Inspired by the recent successes of instantaneous phase of low-frequency invasive brain signals in the motor control and sensory processing domains, this study examines the extension of such a slow-oscillation phase representation to the reconstructing two-dimensional hand movements, with the non-invasive EEG signals for the first time. The data for analysis are collected on five healthy subjects performing 2D hand center-out reaching along four directions in two sessions. On representative channels over the cortices encoding the execution information of reaching movements, we show that the low-delta EEG phase representation is characterized by higher signal-to-noise ratio and stronger modulation by the movement tasks, compared to the low-delta EEG amplitude representation. Furthermore, we have tested the low-delta EEG phase representation with two commonly used linear decoding models. The results demonstrate that the low-delta EEG phase based decoders lead to superior performance for 2D executed movement reconstruction to its amplitude based counterparts, as well as the other-frequency band amplitude and power based features. Thus, our study contributes to improve the movement reconstruction from EEG by introducing a new feature set based on the low-delta EEG phase patterns, and demonstrates its potential for continuous fine motion control of neuroprostheses.