Niels Birbaumer

University of Tuebingen, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

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Publications (483)1649.22 Total impact

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    Tamara Matuz · Niels Birbaumer · Martin Hautzinger · Andrea Kübler
    Frontiers in Psychology 09/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01197 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common and chronic condition that can have disabling effects throughout the patient's lifespan. Frequent symptoms among OCD patients include fear of contamination and washing compulsions. Several studies have shown a link between contamination fears, disgust over-reactivity, and insula activation in OCD. In concordance with the role of insula in disgust processing, new neural models based on neuroimaging studies suggest that abnormally high activations of insula could be implicated in OCD psychopathology, at least in the subgroup of patients with contamination fears and washing compulsions. Methods: In the current study, we used a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI) to aid OCD patients to achieve down-regulation of the Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) signal in anterior insula. Our first aim was to investigate whether patients with contamination obsessions and washing compulsions can learn to volitionally decrease (down-regulate) activity in the insula in the presence of disgust/anxiety provoking stimuli. Our second aim was to evaluate the effect of down-regulation on clinical, behavioural and physiological changes pertaining to OCD symptoms. Hence, several pre- and post-training measures were performed, i.e., confronting the patient with a disgust/anxiety inducing real-world object (Ecological Disgust Test), and subjective rating and physiological responses (heart rate, skin conductance level) of disgust towards provoking pictures. Results: Results of this pilot study, performed in 3 patients (2 females), show that OCD patients can gain self-control of the BOLD activity of insula, albeit to different degrees. In two patients positive changes in behaviour in the EDT were observed following the rtfMRI trainings. Behavioural changes were also confirmed by reductions in the negative valence and in the subjective perception of disgust towards symptom provoking images. Conclusion: Although preliminary, results of this study confirmed that insula down-regulation is possible in patients suffering from OCD, and that volitional decreases of insula activation could be used for symptom alleviation in this disorder.
    PLoS ONE 08/2015; 10(8):e0135872. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0135872 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, a significant effort has been invested in the development of kinematics-decoding models from electromyographic (EMG) signals to achieve more natural control interfaces for rehabilitation therapies. However, the development of a dexterous EMG-based control interface including multiple degrees of freedom (DOFs) of the upper limb still remains a challenge. Another persistent issue in surface myoelectric control is the non-stationarity of EMG signals across sessions. In this work, the decoding of 7 distal and proximal DOFs' kinematics during coordinated upper-arm, fore-arm and hand movements was performed. The influence of the EMG non-stationarity was tested by training a continuous EMG decoder in three different scenarios. Moreover, the generalization characteristics of two algorithms (ridge regression and Kalman filter) were compared in the aforementioned scenarios. Eight healthy participants underwent EMG and kinematics recordings while performing three functional tasks. We demonstrated that ridge regression significantly outperformed the Kalman filter, indicating a superior generalization ability. Furthermore, we proved that the performance drop caused by the session-to-session non-stationarities could be significantly mitigated by including a short re-calibration phase. Although further tests should be performed, these preliminary findings constitute a step forward towards the non-invasive control of the next generation of upper limb rehabilitation robotics.
    2015 IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR), Singapore; 08/2015
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    ABSTRACT: The use of regression methods for decoding of neural signals has become popular, with its main applications in the field of Brain-Machine Interfaces (BMIs) for control of prosthetic devices or in the area of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) for cursor control. When new methods for decoding are being developed or the parameters for existing methods should be optimized to increase performance, a metric is needed that gives an accurate estimate of the prediction error. In this paper, we evaluate different performance metrics regarding their robustness for assessing prediction errors. Using simulated data, we show that different kinds of prediction error (noise, scaling error, bias) have different effects on the different metrics and evaluate which methods are best to assess the overall prediction error, as well as the individual types of error. Based on the obtained results we can conclude that the most commonly used metrics correlation coefficient (CC) and normalized root-mean-squared error (NRMSE) are well suited for evaluation of cross-validated results, but should not be used as sole criterion for cross-subject or cross-session evaluations.
    37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC’15); 08/2015
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    ABSTRACT: Simultaneous measurements of intra-cortical electrophysiology and hemodynamic signals in primates are essential for relating human neuroimaging studies with intra-cortical electrophysiology in monkeys. Previously, technically challenging and resourcefully demanding techniques such as fMRI and Intrinsic-Signal Optical Imaging have been used for such studies. Functional Near-InfraRed Spectroscopy is a relatively less cumbersome neuroimaging method that uses near-infrared light to detect small changes in concentrations of oxy-hemoglobin (HbO), deoxy-hemoglobin (HbR) and total hemoglobin (HbT) in a volume of tissue with high specificity and temporal resolution. FNIRS is thus a good candidate for hemodynamic measurements in primates to acquire local hemodynamic signals during electrophysiological recordings. To test the feasibility of using epidural fNIRS with concomitant extracellular electrophysiology, we recorded neuronal and hemodynamic activity from the primary visual cortex of two anesthetized monkeys during visual stimulation. We recorded fNIRS epidurally, using one emitter and two detectors. We performed simultaneous cortical electrophysiology using tetrodes placed between the fNIRS sensors. We observed robust and reliable responses to the visual stimulation in both [HbO] and [HbR] signals, and quantified the signal-to-noise ratio of the epidurally measured signals. We also observed a positive correlation between stimulus-induced modulation of [HbO] and [HbR] signals and strength of neural modulation. Briefly, our results show that epidural fNIRS detects single-trial responses to visual stimuli on a trial-by-trial basis, and when coupled with cortical electrophysiology, is a promising tool for studying local hemodynamic signals and neuro-vascular coupling. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    NeuroImage 07/2015; 120. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.07.019 · 6.36 Impact Factor
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    Ujwal Chaudhary · Niels Birbaumer
    05/2015; 3(Suppl 1):S29. DOI:10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2015.02.27
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    Nicola Neumann · Anna M. Dubischar-Krivec · Fritz Poustka · Niels Birbaumer · Sven Bölte · Christoph Braun
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    DESCRIPTION: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate intact or superior local processing of visual-spatial tasks. We investigated the hypothesis that in a disembedding task, autistic individuals exhibit a more local processing style than controls, which is reflected by altered electromagnetic brain activity in response to embedded stimuli and enhanced activity of early visual areas. Ten autistic and ten matched control participants underwent 151-channel whole-head magnetoencephalography. Par- ticipants were presented with 400 embedded or isolated letters (‘S’ or ‘H’) and asked to indicate which of the two letters was shown. Performance was equal in both groups, but event-related magnetic fields differed between groups in an early (100–150 ms) and a later (350–400 ms) time window. In the early time window, autistic individuals differed from control participants in the embedded, but not in the iso- lated condition, reflecting reduced processing of the irrelevant context in autistic individuals. In the later time window, amplitude differences between the embedded and isolated conditions were measured in control participants only, suggesting that “disembedding” processes were not required in autistic individuals. Source localisation indicated that activity in individuals with ASD peaked in the primary visual cortex in both conditions and time windows indicating an effortless (automatic, bottom-up) local process, whereas activity in controls peaked outside the visual cortex.
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    ABSTRACT: The main objective of this roadmap is to provide a global perspective on the BCI field now and in the future. For readers not familiar with BCIs, we introduce basic terminology and concepts. We discuss what BCIs are, what BCIs can do, and who can benefit from BCIs. We illustrate our arguments with use cases to support the main messages. After reading this roadmap you will have a clear picture of the potential benefits and challenges of BCIs, the steps necessary to bridge the gap between current and future applications, and the potential impact of BCIs on society in the next decade and beyond.
  • Ander Ramos-Murguialday · Niels Birbaumer
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    ABSTRACT: Non-invasive brain-computer-interfaces (BCI) coupled with prosthetic devices were recently introduced in the rehabilitation of chronic stroke and other disorders of the motor system. These BCI systems and motor rehabilitation in general involve several motor tasks for training. This study investigates the neurophysiological bases of an EEG-oscillations-driven BCI combined with a neuroprosthetic device in order to define the specific oscillatory signature of the BCI-task. We recorded EEG while 9 healthy participants performed five different motor tasks consisting of closing and opening of the hand: 1) motor imagery without any external feedback and without overt hand movement, 2) motor imagery which moves the orthosis proportional to the produced brain oscillation change with online proprioceptive and visual feedback of the hand moving through a neuroprosthetic device (BCI-condition), 3) passive and 4) active movement of the hand with feedback (seeing and feeling the hand moving) and 5) rest. We analyzed brain activity during the 5 conditions using time-frequency domain bootstrap based statistical comparisons and Morlet transforms. Activity during rest condition was used as reference. Significant contralateral and ipsilateral event related desynchronization of sensorimotor rhythm was present during all motor tasks, largest in contralateral-post-central, medio-central and ipsilateral-pre-central areas identifying the ipsilateral pre-central cortex as an integral part of motor regulation. Changes in task specific frequency power when compared to rest were similar between motor tasks and only significant differences in the time course and some narrow specific frequency bands were observed between motor tasks. We identified EEG features representing proprioception, active intention and passive involvement differentiating brain oscillations during motor tasks that could substantially support the design of novel motor BCI-based rehabilitation therapies. The BCI task induced significantly different brain activity compared to the other motor tasks indicating neural processes unique to the use of body actuators control in a BCI-context. Copyright © 2013, Journal of Neurophysiology.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 03/2015; 113(10):jn.00467.2013. DOI:10.1152/jn.00467.2013 · 2.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Psychopathic individuals are characterized by impaired affective processing, impulsivity, sensation-seeking, poor planning skills and heightened aggressiveness with poor self-regulation. Based on brain self-regulation studies using neurofeedback of Slow Cortical Potentials (SCPs) in disorders associated with a dysregulation of cortical activity thresholds and evidence of deficient cortical functioning in psychopathy, a neurobiological approach seems to be promising in the treatment of psychopathy. The results of our intensive brain regulation intervention demonstrate, that psychopathic offenders are able to gain control of their brain excitability over fronto-central brain areas. After SCP self-regulation training, we observed reduced aggression, impulsivity and behavioral approach tendencies, as well as improvements in behavioral-inhibition and increased cortical sensitivity for error-processing. This study demonstrates improvements on the neurophysiological, behavioral and subjective level in severe psychopathic offenders after SCP-neurofeedback training and could constitute a novel neurobiologically-based treatment for a seemingly change-resistant group of criminal psychopaths.
    Scientific Reports 03/2015; 5. DOI:10.1038/srep09426 · 5.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Task performance depends on ongoing brain activity which can be influenced by attention, arousal, or motivation. However, such modulating factors of cognitive efficiency are unspecific, can be difficult to control, and are not suitable to facilitate neural processing in a regionally specific manner. Here, we non-pharmacologically manipulated regionally specific brain activity using technically sophisticated real-time fMRI neurofeedback. This was accomplished by training participants to simultaneously control ongoing brain activity in circumscribed motor and memory-related brain areas, namely the supplementary motor area and the parahippocampal cortex. We found that learned voluntary control over these functionally distinct brain areas caused functionally specific behavioral effects, i.e. shortening of motor reaction times and specific interference with memory encoding. The neurofeedback approach goes beyond improving cognitive efficiency by unspecific psychological factors such as attention, arousal, or motivation. It allows for directly manipulating sustained activity of task-relevant brain regions in order to yield specific behavioral or cognitive effects. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Biological psychology 03/2015; 220. DOI:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.03.009 · 3.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Eye trackers are widely used among people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and their benefits to quality of life have been previously shown. On the contrary, Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are still quite a novel technology, which also serves as an access technology for people with severe motor impairment. Objective. To compare a visual P300-based BCI and an eye tracker in terms of information transfer rate (ITR), usability, and cognitive workload in users with motor impairments. Methods. Each participant performed 3 spelling tasks, over 4 total sessions, using an Internet browser, which was controlled by a spelling interface that was suitable for use with either the BCI or the eye tracker. At the end of each session, participants evaluated usability and cognitive workload of the system. Results. ITR and System Usability Scale (SUS) score were higher for the eye tracker (Wilcoxon signed-rank test: ITR T = 9, P = .016; SUS T = 12.50, P = .035). Cognitive workload was higher for the BCI (T = 4; P = .003). Conclusions. Although BCIs could be potentially useful for people with severe physical disabilities, we showed that the usability of BCIs based on the visual P300 remains inferior to eye tracking. We suggest that future research on visual BCIs should use eye tracking-based control as a comparison to evaluate performance or focus on nonvisual paradigms for persons who have lost gaze control. © The Author(s) 2015.
    Neurorehabilitation and neural repair 03/2015; DOI:10.1177/1545968315575611 · 3.98 Impact Factor
  • Brain Stimulation 03/2015; 8(2):436. DOI:10.1016/j.brs.2015.01.392 · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The brain-computer interface (BCI) field has grown dramatically over the past few years, but there are still no coordinated efforts to ensure efficient communication and collaboration among key stakeholders. The European Commission (EC) has recently renewed their efforts to establish such a coordination effort by funding a coordination and support action for the BCI community called ‘BNCI Horizon 2020’ after the ‘Future BNCI’ project. Major goals of this new project include developing a roadmap for the next decade and beyond, encouraging discussion and collaboration within the BCI community, fostering communication with the general public, and the foundation of an international BCI Society. We present a short overview of current and past EU-funded BCI projects and provide evidence of a growing research and industrial community. Efficient communication also entails the establishment of clear terminology, which is a major goal of BNCI Horizon 2020. To this end, we give a brief overview of current BCI-related terms and definitions. A major networking activity in the project was the BNCI Horizon 2020 Retreat in Hallstatt, Austria. Over 60 experts participated in this event to discuss the future of the BCI field in a series of plenary talks, targeted discussions, and parallel focus sessions. A follow-up event was the EU BCI Day at the 6th International Brain-Computer Interface Conference in Graz, Austria. This networking event included plenary talks by eight companies and representatives from all seven ongoing EU research projects, poster presentations, demos, and discussions. Another goal of BNCI Horizon 2020 is the foundation of an official BCI Society. In this article, we summarize the current status of this process. Finally, we present visions for future BCI applications developed within BNCI Horizon 2020 using input from external BCI experts as well. We identify common themes and conclude with six exemplary use cases.
    02/2015; 2(1):1-10. DOI:10.1080/2326263X.2015.1008956

Publication Stats

23k Citations
1,649.22 Total Impact Points


  • 1977–2015
    • University of Tuebingen
      • • Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology
      • • Department of Psychology
      Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 2014
    • Fondazione Ospedale San Camillo, Venezia
      Venetia, Veneto, Italy
  • 2012–2013
    • Universitätsklinikum Tübingen
      • Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology
      Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
    • Boca Raton Regional Hospital
      Boca Raton, Florida, United States
  • 2010–2013
    • Ospedale di San Raffaele Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2008
    • University of Wuerzburg
      Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2007
    • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
      Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
    • National Institutes of Health
      베서스다, Maryland, United States
  • 1988–2007
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Psychology
      State College, PA, United States
  • 2006
    • University of Bonn
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2003–2006
    • Università degli Studi di Trento
      Trient, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
  • 2005
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 2004
    • Nottingham Trent University
      Nottigham, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002
    • Central Institute of Mental Health
      • Klinik für Abhängiges Verhalten und Suchtmedizin
      Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 2000
    • University of Florida
      • Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
      Gainesville, Florida, United States
  • 1994–1998
    • University of Padova
      • Department of General Psychology
      Padua, Veneto, Italy
  • 1997
    • Universität Konstanz
      • Department of Psychology
      Constance, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 1996
    • Humboldt University of Berlin
      • Department of Psychology
      Berlin, Land Berlin, Germany
  • 1992
    • Università degli Studi del Sannio
      Benevento, Campania, Italy
  • 1984
    • Universität Ulm
      • Institute of Clinical and Biological Psychology
      Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany