An MEG-based brain-computer interface (BCI)

Jürgen Mellinger, Gerwin Schalk, Christoph Braun, Hubert Preissl, Wolfgang Rosenstiel, Niels Birbaumer, Andrea Kübler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) allow for communicating intentions by mere brain activity, not involving muscles. Thus, BCIs may offer patients who have lost all voluntary muscle control the only possible way to communicate. Many recent studies have demonstrated that BCIs based on electroencephalography (EEG) can allow healthy and severely paralyzed individuals to communicate. While this approach is safe and inexpensive, communication is slow. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) provides signals with higher spatiotemporal resolution than EEG and could thus be used to explore whether these improved signal properties translate into increased BCI communication speed. In this study, we investigated the utility of an MEG-based BCI that uses voluntary amplitude modulation of sensorimotor μ and β rhythms. To increase the signal-to-noise ratio, we present a simple spatial filtering method that takes the geometric properties of signal propagation in MEG into account, and we present methods that can process artifacts specifically encountered in an MEG-based BCI. Exemplarily, six participants were successfully trained to communicate binary decisions by imagery of limb movements using a feedback paradigm. Participants achieved significant μ rhythm self control within 32 min of feedback training. For a subgroup of three participants, we localized the origin of the amplitude modulated signal to the motor cortex. Our results suggest that an MEG-based BCI is feasible and efficient in terms of user training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-593
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2007


  • μ rhythm
  • Brain-computer interface
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Real-time feedback
  • Source localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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