Closed-loop cortical control of direction using support vector machines

Byron P. Olson, Jennie Si, Jing Hu, Jiping He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Motor neuroprosthetics research has focused on reproducing natural limb motions by correlating firing rates of cortical neurons to continuous movement parameters. We propose an alternative system where specific spatial-temporal spike patterns, emerging in tasks, allow detection of classes of behavior with the aid of sophisticated nonlinear classification algorithms. Specifically, we attempt to examine ensemble activity from motor cortical neurons, not to reproduce the action this neural activity normally precedes, but rather to predict an output supervisory command to potentially control a vehicle. To demonstrate the principle, this design approach was implemented in a discrete directional task taking a small number of motor cortical signals (8-10 single units) fed into a support vector machine (SVM) to produce the commands Left and Right. In this study, rats were placed in a conditioning chamber performing a binary paddle pressing task mimicking the control of a wheelchair turning left or right. Four animal subjects (male Sprague-Dawley rats) were able to use such a brain-machine interface (BMI) with an average accuracy of 78% on their first day of exposure. Additionally, one animal continued to use the interface for three consecutive days with an average accuracy over 90%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Brain-machine interface (BMI)
  • Cortical control
  • Neural prosthetics
  • Wheelchair control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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