Improved Control and Sensory Feedback for Neuroprosthetics


Supported by:

National Science Foundation HCC/IIS-1064703



My project involves studying how scalp electroencephalography based brain machine interfaces for upper limb prosthetic devices can be enhanced when subjects are provided with tactile artificial sensory feedback. This is part of a collaboration which aims to study the neural correlates behind the use of a prosthesis when artificial sensory feedback is applied. The collaboration involves the development of robotic end effectors and tactile stimulators, accompanied by the study of neural activity through scalp electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).


Team Members:

  • Andrew Paek
  • Nicole Vargas Tobos



  • Marcia O’Malley from Rice University:
  • Brent Gillespie from University of Michigan
  • Patricia Shewokis from Drexel University


Representative Publications:

  • Brown, J.D., Paek, A., Syed, M., O’Malley, M., Shewokis, P.A., Contreras-Vidal, J.L., Gillespie, B. (2013). Understanding the Role of Haptic Feedback in a Teleoperated/Prosthetic Grasp and Lift Task” IEEE World Haptics Conference 2013, The 5th Joint Eurohaptics Conference and IEEE Haptics Symposium.Daejon, Korea. (pp. 271-276).
  • Christiansen, R., Contreras-Vidal, J.L., Gillespie B., Shewokis, A., O’Malley, M. (2013). Vibrotactile Feedback of Pose Error Enhances Myoelectric Control of a Prosthetic Hand. IEEE World Haptics Conference 2013, The 5th Joint Eurohaptics Conference and IEEE Haptics Symposium.Daejon, Korea. (pp. 531-536).
  • Paek, A. Y., Brown, J. D., Brent, R., Malley, M. K. O., Shewokis, P. A., & Contreras-Vidal, J. L. (2013). Reconstructing Surface EMG from Scalp EEG during Myoelectric Control of a Closed Looped Prosthetic Device. In 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Osaka, Japan.  (pp. 5602–5605).




Brain-Machine Interface Control of a Therapeutic Exoskeleton


Supported by:

National Institute of Health Grant R01NS081854 (National Robotics Initiative). Identifier: NCT01948739



The BMI-Exo Project is a research collaboration between Rice University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Centre, and the Methodist Hospital that aims to accelerate the development, efficacy and use of robotic rehabilitation after stroke. By combining a non-invasive brain-machine interface (BMI) with a robotic rehabilitation exoskeleton, the therapy is now ‘active’ and the patients across a broad spectrum of impairment are engaged in the rehabilitation tasks. When complete, the combined device will be validated by UTHealth physicians at TIRR Memorial Hermann with as many as 40 volunteer patients. Together, the team hopes to increase the upper limb function for stroke patients, advance the understanding of brain plasticity, and help innovate rehabilitation. For more information about this project please visit our project’s NIH Report page by clicking here.


Team members:

  • Nikunj A. Bhagat
  • Dr. Anusha Venkatakrishnan
  • Dr. Berdakh Abibullaev


Collaborators in grants with links to labs
- Dr. Marcia O’Malley, Rice University (
- Dr. Gerard Francisco, UTHealth and TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital (
- Dr. Robert G. Grossman, Houston Methodist Research Hospital (


Representative Publications:
  • N. A. Bhagat, J. French, A. Venkatakrishnan, N. Yozbatiran, G. E. Francisco, M. K. O. Malley, and J. L. Contreras-vidal, “Detecting Movement Intent from Scalp EEG in a Novel Upper Limb Robotic Rehabilitation System for Stroke,” Conf. Proc. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Soc., 2014.
  • A. Venkatakrishnan, G. E. Francisco, and J. L. Contreras-Vidal, “Applications of Brain-Machine Interface Systems in Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation.,” Curr. Phys. Med. Rehabil. reports, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 93–105, Jun. 2014
  • A. A. Blank, French, J. A., Pehlivan, A. Utku, and O’Malley, M. K., “Current Trends in Robot-Assisted Upper-Limb Stroke Rehabilitation: Promoting Patient Engagement in Therapy”, Current Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Reports, 2014.
  • A. Blank, O’Malley, M. K., Francisco, G. E., and Contreras-Vidal, J. L., “A Pre-Clinical Framework for Neural Control of a Therapeutic Upper-Limb Exoskeleton”, IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering. pp. 1159-1162, 2013