Final Report

A low-resolution version of the final report of this study is available for download in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format [~6 MB]. 

Background of the Study

Advances in computational technology, component miniaturization, biocompatibility of materials, and sensor technology will lead to  improved feasibility of useful brain-computer interfaces in the next five years. Since the 1970s there has been increasing interest among agencies of the Federal government, such as NSF, DARPA, ONR, AFOSR, U.S. Army, NIST, and NIH, state agencies, universities, and private industry in improving human-computer interaction and developing a BCI system.

Judging from scientific papers published in technical journals and at conferences, BCI has seen increasing interest since 2000, when the First International Meeting on Brain-Computer Interface Technology was held and reported in the IEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering. The literature of the field has doubled since 2002.

Experiments with animals and demonstrations by a few human quadriplegics have shown that useful neural signals from the brain can be sensed, interpreted and used to drive a computer or simple prosthetic device. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has an initiative to fully develop a brain signal interfaced prosthetic arm within five years. Similar commercially developed prosthetics are expected to follow rapidly.

Hardware, software and devices for BCI research are available and being developed at universities and are being spun-off intcommercial enterprises, for example, the University of Utah Array, the University of Michigan Array and biomimetic VSLI chips at the University of Southern California. These technologies are now enabling rapid advancement of neural signal recording and interpretation for prosthetic devices.

Neuron firing in the brain may be detected through electrodes normally inserted in the cortex, singly or in multiple electrode arrays, or through electrodes placed non-invasively in contact with the scalp using electroencephalographic methods (EEG). Magnetoencephalographic activity (MEG), thermography, functional MRI interpretation and analysis of near infrared spectrum (NIRS) activity are being considered as auxiliary sensing methods.

Need for an International Study

Significant activity in BCI research is evident overseas and in Canada. Japanese research in the use of near infrared spectrum (NIRS) sensing and interpretation may be leading the world. The University of Tuebingen, Germany, Lund University, Sweden, Fraunhofer Institute, Berlin,  Korean Research Institute,  Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, Japan,  and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, among others, have ongoing research programs in BCI. China and Brazil are emerging with active research programs in BCI. The Defense Evaluation Research Agency of the U.K. also has programs in BCI research.

Understanding the status and trends in BCI research abroad will inform program managers in U.S. research agencies and the researchers in the field to enable more effective scientific exchanges, direct more focused research in promising areas, and produce international collaboration.

Purpose and Scope


The goal of this study is to gather information on the worldwide status and trends in brain-computer interface research and to disseminate it to government decision makers and the research community.

The study panelists will gather information on BCI research abroad, which will be useful to the U.S. Government in its own programs. The study will critically analyze and compare the research in the United States with that being pursued in Japan, Europe, or other selected countries. This information will serve the following purposes:

Scope of the Study

The study will review the status and trends of research and development with respect to BCI that are important for achieving successful implementation of BCI systems. The study will emphasize the neural engineering and systems engineering aspects of BCI, including computational algorithms and control methods, to effect synthetic human motor movement through neuroprosthetic systems, i.e. manipulation of a prosthesis or tele-operated device,  in response to planned motor movement (PMM) activity in the applicable area of the cortex.

The sponsors of the BCI study in consultation with the chair person will specify the scope of the study. The discussion below is meant to aid in the determination of the desired priorities of the assessment of BCI abroad.

In a recent informal discussion at a BCI workshop at MITRE Corporation, Tysons Corner, VA, leading researchers suggested that the following areas were important to advancing achievements in the field.

Among the significant elements of research are:

The following lists issues that may be of interest in assessing the field.

Since the result of the assessment of BCI abroad will inform U.S. government research support and policies, topics related to policy, research direction, new education programs, and technology transfer may be of interest: 


Ted Berger
W. Berger
(Panel Chair)

  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering, David Packard Chair in Engineering
    Neurophysiology of memory and learning, nonlinear systems analysis of hippocampal network properties, neurobiology.
  • Dr. Theodore W. Berger
    David Packard Professor
    Department of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience Program
    Director, Center for Neural Engineering
    166 Denney Research Bldg.
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA  90089
  • Web:
John Chapin

John Chapin

Greg A. Gerhardt

  Greg A. Gerhardt

  • Greg A. Gerhardt, Ph.D. Professor,
    Departments of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Neurology and Psychiatry
    Director, Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence
    Director, Center for Sensor Technology
    306 MRISC Bldg.
    800 Rose Street
    University of Kentucky
    Lexington, KY  40536-0098
  • Web:

Dennis McFarland

Dennis McFarland

  • Dennis McFarland, Ph.D. Research Scientist
    Wadsworth Laboratories
    PO Box 509
    Empire State Plaza
    Albany, NY 1220
Jose C. Principe

Jose C. Principe

Dawn M. Taylor

Dawn M. Taylor

  • Dawn M. Taylor, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
    Case Western Reserve University
    Wickenden Building 108
    10900 Euclid Avenue
    Cleveland, OH 44106-7207
  • Web:
Patrick A. Tresco

Patrick A. Tresco

  • Patrick A. Tresco, Ph.D. Professor
    Department of Bioengineering
    Director, Keck Center for Tissue Engineering
    108D BPRB
    University of Utah
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
  • Web: