2023 journal article

Can vibrotactile stimulation and tDCS help inefficient BCI users?


By: K. Won*, H. Kim*, D. Gwon*, M. Ahn*, C. Nam n & S. Jun*

author keywords: BCI; BCI illiteracy; Performance variation; Vibrotactile stimulation; Brain stimulation
MeSH headings : Humans; Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods; Brain-Computer Interfaces; Imagery, Psychotherapy; Movement / physiology; Electroencephalography / methods
Source: Web Of Science
Added: May 15, 2023

Abstract Brain-computer interface (BCI) has helped people by allowing them to control a computer or machine through brain activity without actual body movement. Despite this advantage, BCI cannot be used widely because some people cannot achieve controllable performance. To solve this problem, researchers have proposed stimulation methods to modulate relevant brain activity to improve BCI performance. However, multiple studies have reported mixed results following stimulation, and the comparative study of different stimulation modalities has been overlooked. Accordingly, this study was designed to compare vibrotactile stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation’s (tDCS) effects on brain activity modulation and motor imagery BCI performance among inefficient BCI users. We recruited 44 subjects and divided them into sham, vibrotactile stimulation, and tDCS groups, and low performers were selected from each stimulation group. We found that the latter’s BCI performance in the vibrotactile stimulation group increased significantly by 9.13% ( p < 0.01), and while the tDCS group subjects’ performance increased by 5.13%, it was not significant. In contrast, sham group subjects showed no increased performance. In addition to BCI performance, pre-stimulus alpha band power and the phase locking values (PLVs) averaged over sensory motor areas showed significant increases in low performers following stimulation in the vibrotactile stimulation and tDCS groups, while sham stimulation group subjects and high performers showed no significant stimulation effects across all groups. Our findings suggest that stimulation effects may differ depending upon BCI efficiency, and inefficient BCI users have greater plasticity than efficient BCI users.