Behavioral and cortical effects during attention driven brain-computer interface operations in spatial neglect: A feasibility case study

Luca Tonin, Marco Pitteri, Robert Leeb, Huaijian Zhang, Emanuele Menegatti, Francesco Piccione, José del R. Millán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the last years, several studies have suggested that Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) can play a critical role in the field of motor rehabilitation. In this case report, we aim to investigate the feasibility of a covert visuospatial attention (CVSA) driven BCI in three patients with left spatial neglect (SN). We hypothesize that such a BCI is able to detect attention task-specific brain patterns in SN patients and can induce significant changes in their abnormal cortical activity (α-power modulation, feature recruitment, and connectivity). The three patients were asked to control online a CVSA BCI by focusing their attention at different spatial locations, including their neglected (left) space. As primary outcome, results show a significant improvement of the reaction time in the neglected space between calibration and online modalities (p < 0.01) for the two out of three patients that had the slowest initial behavioral response. Such an evolution of reaction time negatively correlates (p < 0.05) with an increment of the Individual α-Power computed in the pre-cue interval. Furthermore, all patients exhibited a significant reduction of the inter-hemispheric imbalance (p < 0.05) over time in the parieto-occipital regions. Finally, analysis on the inter-hemispheric functional connectivity suggests an increment across modalities for regions in the affected (right) hemisphere and decrement for those in the healthy. Although preliminary, this feasibility study suggests a possible role of BCI in the therapeutic treatment of lateralized, attention-based visuospatial deficits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number336
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Jun 28 2017


  • Alpha oscillations
  • Brain-computer interface
  • Covert visuospatial attention
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Functional connectivity
  • Spatial neglect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Behavioral and cortical effects during attention driven brain-computer interface operations in spatial neglect: A feasibility case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this