Detection of the onset of upper-limb movements based on the combined analysis of changes in the sensorimotor rhythms and slow cortical potentials

J. Ibáñez*, J. I. Serrano, M. D. Del Castillo, E. Monge-Pereira, F. Molina-Rueda, I. Alguacil-Diego, Jose L Pons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Objective. Characterizing the intention to move by means of electroencephalographic activity can be used in rehabilitation protocols with patients' cortical activity taking an active role during the intervention. In such applications, the reliability of the intention estimation is critical both in terms of specificity 'number of misclassifications' and temporal accuracy. Here, a detector of the onset of voluntary upper-limb reaching movements based on the cortical rhythms and the slow cortical potentials is proposed. The improvement in detections due to the combination of these two cortical patterns is also studied. Approach. Upper-limb movements and cortical activity were recorded in healthy subjects and stroke patients performing self-paced reaching movements. A logistic regression combined the output of two classifiers: (i) a naïve Bayes classifier trained to detect the event-related desynchronization preceding the movement onset and (ii) a matched filter detecting the bereitschaftspotential. The proposed detector was compared with the detectors by using each one of these cortical patterns separately. In addition, differences between the patients and healthy subjects were analysed. Main results. On average, 74.5 ± 13.8% and 82.2 ± 10.4% of the movements were detected with 1.32 ± 0.87 and 1.50 ± 1.09 false detections generated per minute in the healthy subjects and the patients, respectively. A significantly better performance was achieved by the combined detector (as compared to the detectors of the two cortical patterns separately) in terms of true detections (p = 0.099) and false positives (p = 0.0083). Significance. A rationale is provided for combining information from cortical rhythms and slow cortical potentials to detect the onsets of voluntary upper-limb movements. It is demonstrated that the two cortical processes supply complementary information that can be summed up to boost the performance of the detector. Successful results have been also obtained with stroke patients, which supports the use of the proposed system in brain-computer interface applications with this group of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number056009
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • bereitcshaftspotential
  • electroencephalography
  • eventrelated desynchronization
  • stroke
  • voluntary movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biomedical Engineering


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