Friday, 25 May 2012

Riccardo and Francisco's visit to JPL

Francisco and Riccardo visited Adrian Stoica's lab at JLP in late May 2012 interacting particularly with Adrian but also Christopher Assad (he is specifically interested in EMG applications to robotic control and prosthesis) and other people.

They were also invited to give a tutorial on BCI to get people in the lab up to speed on the state-of-the-art and recent developments in the field.

The seminar was entitled "Brain Signals + Evolutionary Computation = Human Competitive Brain Computer Interfaces". Here is a summary:

The keyboard and mouse provide us with reliable, but unnatural forms of input, being primitive transducer of muscular movement. People who lack muscle control cannot used them.  Wouldn't it be nice some day to be able to replace the mouse and keyboard with systems capable of directly interpreting the intentions of computer users from their
brain activity? 

This is the goal of the field of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI). Unfortunately, this goal is hampered by a number of problems: brain signals are typically extremely noisy, they vary in location and temporal dynamics from subject to subject, they depend on the age,

tiredness, attention, food and drug intake of subjects, etc. So, even the best BCIs are extremely slow and prone to misinterpret user intentions.

In this seminar we will briefly review the different approaches to BCI, with particular attention to non-invasive EEG-based BCIs, highlighting their difficulties and limitations. We will then illustrate a number of cases from our own research in the Essex BCI group, where evolutionary algorithms and genetic programming in particular have helped develop systems which are competitive with human-designed ones, thereby accelerating the development of practical BCI technology.

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