Continuous 2D trajectory decoding from attempted movement: across-session performance in able-bodied and feasibility in a spinal cord injured participant

Hannah Pulferer, Brynja Ásgeirsdóttir, Valeria Mondini, Andreea Ioana Sburlea, Gernot Müller-Putz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. In people with a cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) or degenerative diseases leading to limited motor function, restoration of upper limb movement has been a goal of the brain-computer interface field for decades. Recently, research from our group investigated non-invasive and real-time decoding of continuous movement in able-bodied participants from low-frequency brain signals during a target-tracking task. To advance our setup towards motor-impaired end users, we consequently chose a new paradigm based on attempted movement.Approach. Here, we present the results of two studies. During the first study, data of ten able-bodied participants completing a target-tracking/shape-tracing task on-screen were investigated in terms of improvements in decoding performance due to user training. In a second study, a spinal cord injured participant underwent the same tasks. To investigate the merit of employing attempted movement in end users with SCI, data of the spinal cord injured participant were recorded twice; once within an observation-only condition, and once while simultaneously attempting movement.Main results. We observed mean correlations well above chance level for continuous motor decoding based on attempted movement in able-bodied participants. Additionally, no global improvement over three sessions within five days, both in sensor and in source space, could be observed across all participants and movement parameters. In the participant with SCI, decoding performance well above chance was found.Significance. No presence of a learning effect in continuous attempted movement decoding in able-bodied participants could be observed. In contrast, non-significantly varying decoding patterns may promote the use of source space decoding in terms of generalized decoders utilizing transfer learning. Furthermore, above-chance correlations for attempted movement decoding ranging between those of observation only and executed movement were seen in one spinal cord injured participant, suggesting attempted movement decoding as a possible link between feasibility studies in able-bodied and actual applications in motor impaired end users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036005
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • trajectory decoding
  • source localization
  • motor control
  • neuroplasticity
  • Brain-computer interface (BCI)
  • electroencephalography
  • brain-computer interface
  • learning effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biomedical Engineering

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

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