Researchers have shown for the first time that the use of a brain-computer interface augmented with a virtual walking avatar can control gait, suggesting the protocol may help patients recover the ability to walk after stroke, some spinal cord injuries and certain other gait disabilities.
Researches collected data from eight healthy subjects, all of whom participated in three trials involving walking on a treadmill while watching an avatar displayed on a monitor. The volunteers were fitted with a 64-channel headset and motion sensors at the hip, knee and ankle joint.
The avatar first was activated by the motion sensors, allowing its movement to precisely mimic that of the test subject. In later tests, the avatar was controlled by the brain-computer interface, meaning the subject controlled the avatar with his or her brain.
The avatar perfectly mimicked the subject’s movements when relying upon the sensors, but the match was less precise when the brain-computer interface was used.
The researchers reported increased activity in the posterior parietal cortex and the inferior parietal lobe, along with increased involvement of the anterior cingulate cortex, which is involved in motor learning and error monitoring.
Source and additional details in ScienceDaily