Neuroelectric Imaging and BCI Lab (NEILab)

Areas of Investigation 

The Laboratory of Neuroelectric Imaging and Brain-Computer Interfaces (NEILab) integrates expertise of both clinical neurophysiology and bioengineering. The goal is to develop, implement and validate advanced techniques of analysis of the electroencephalographic high resolution signal (EEG) for the study of neural correlations between brain functions and processes that underlie post-lesional recovery. The Laboratory is also specialized in developing new approaches to support neurorehabilitative technologies such as brain-computer interfaces (BCI). The Laboratory also collaborates with the Department of Computer Engineering of Sapienza University of Rome (Bioengineering Group).


Techniques and Analysis Models and Interpretation of the EEG signal

Research conducted by the Laboratory aims to develop and implement the anatomical and functional modeling of the EEG signal techniques in order to improve the definition of complex spatial-temporal relationships of brain electrical signals. The techniques include:

  • algorithms for estimating sources of scalp and cortical EEG (high resolution signal) for interpretation of the relationship between brain electrical activity and the specific anatomical sites where it is generated;
  • mathematical tools that can restore and quantitative summary information regarding the organizational architecture (effective connectivity model) with which occurs the simultaneous exchange of information between different brain areas (EEG Hyperscanning).

The validation of these techniques is articulated within specific experimental protocols for the study of certain motor and cognitive functions also including non-invasive neuromodulation techniques through magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and electricity (tDCS), transcranial monitoring and the monitoring of other biosignals (EMG, GSR, HRV etc.) as well as the cognitive load (workload).

These techniques allow extracting innovative measures of the spatiotemporal dynamics of plasticity with which the brain adapts to changing environmental conditions (learning, decision making, social interaction) or to nervous system diseases (locomotor and/or cognitive functional recovery). This second application is very promising for the evaluation of neuroriabilitative strategies, both conventional and innovative.


Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)

In the field of brain-computer interfaces, the research activities aim to promote the transfer of BCI from research prototypes to implemented support tools for neurorehabilitation. BCI based on EEG signals and/or hybrid (EEG and EMG signals) are currently under development and validation in clinical trials with two different applications.

The first one concerns the Assistive Technology, which supports communication and control of the home environment. The goal is to promote the independence and social inclusion of people with severe motor disability, disability due to neurodegenerative diseases, neuromuscular pathologies and head trauma. The Laboratory plays an innovative role in the integration of BCI technology with modular platforms for access to existing aids. The evaluation metrics of BCI technology follows the principles of User Centered Design, both in terms of usability and in relation to residual motor and cognitive skills of the individual. Advanced techniques for processing of biosignals are implemented with the aim to improve the extraction of the BCI interface control signals (feature extraction, classification accuracy) and the accuracy of real-time control.

The second application of BCI technology is related to the development and support of rehabilitative exercises (upper limb) and cognitive. In these exercises the role of BCI is two-fold. On the one hand, the patient is stimulated to be actively involved in the therapy. On the other, it makes available to the therapist a useful tool for monitoring real-time brain activity and evaluating the proper execution of rehabilitative exercises as well as the quality of brain reorganization in response to trauma. The BCI techniques are particularly expressed by the Laboratory in the neurorehabilitation of stroke patients.

Acquired Patents 
  • The detection method of the cortical hemispheres function using EEG signals and related system. 1412376
  • Center for Neuroprosthetics, Institute of Bioengineering, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne (Switzerland)
  • Institute of Psychology, University of Würzburg (Germany)
  • Laboratory of Brain-Computer Interfaces, Institute for Knowledge Discovery, Technische Universität Graz (Austria)
  • Neural Rehabilitation Group, Cajal Institute, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid (Spain)
Ongoing Research Projects 
  • Neurophysiological approach to evaluate cerebro-cerebellar interactions. Characterization of a cerebellar connectivity EEG index
  • BrainHack: Bringing the arts and sciences of brain and neural computer interface together
Completed Research Projects 
  • BNCI Horizon 2020: The future of Brain/Neural Computer Interaction
  • Brain Computer Interface driven rehabilitation after stroke: an add on intervention for hand motor recovery
  • CONTRAST: An individually adaptable, BNCI-based, remote controlled Cognitive Enhancement Training for successful rehabilitation after stroke in-cluding home support and monitoring
  • ABC: Augmented BNCI Communication
  • TOBI: TOols for Brain-computer Interaction
  • DECODER: Deployment of Brain-Computer Interfaces for the Detection of Consciousness in Non-Responsive Patients
  • BETTER: Brain-Neural Computer Interaction for Evaluation and Testing of Physical Therapies in Stroke Rehabilitation of Gait Disorders
  • BRINDISYS: Brain-computer interface devices to support individual autonomy in Locked-in individuals
  • NEUROMATH: Advanced Methods For The Estimation Of Human Brain Activity And Connectivity
  • ASPICE: Assistive System for Patient s Increase of Communication, ambient control and mobility in absence of muscular Effort
  • MAIA: Non-Invasive Brain Interaction with Robots ― Mental Augmentation through Determination of Intented Action.

Laboratory of Neuroelectric Imaging and Brain-Computer Interfaces

Fondazione Santa Lucia Irccs

Via Ardeatina, 354 – 00179 Rome

Building C1 – Ground Floor