DATE:            Friday, March 22, 2013

TIME:            10:00am  - 11:00am

LOCATION: Room 2901, Nguyen Engineering building


Functional systems research and development of a transcranial out-bound
communication capability:  Initial results

Dennis K. McBride, Ph.D.

Professor and Associate Vice President, Office of Research and Economic
Development, George Mason University

Associate Director, Center of Excellence, C4I

President, George Mason Research Foundation



Electroencephalography (EEG) became a possible means for observing and even
interrogating cortical brain activity 100 years ago (Pravdich-Neminsky, 1912
and Cybulski, 1914).  Medical use of EEG has been limited primarily to
neurological diagnostics for epilepsy, tumor, stroke, and coma.  EEG has
also been used widely in neurocognitive research.  The principal focus of
experimental work has been in the domains of evoked potential
investigations, and in attempts to understand sleep and consciousness or
loss of consciousness.  Clinical and experimental communities have thought
that a preponderance of measurable EEG activity is noise rather than signal.
Moreover, advanced modes of investigating brain activity, including positron
emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, have provided important
alternatives to EEG and arguably have shifted much of the clinical
application and to some degree, experimental work to methods that provide in
many ways more useful information.  This study brought together highly
advanced, heretofore not so publicly available signal processing techniques
in order to test the notion that there is significantly more signal in EEG
data than previously thought.  The aim of the work was to determine the
theoretical feasibility of exploiting EEG output as a "willful"
communication means.  Using a very limited target vocabulary and very
time-consuming, non-real time processing algorithms, we found that stimulus
words expressed implicitly (i.e., silently) could be distinguished from one
another.  These preliminary results and potential application to patients
with locked in syndrome or other neurodegenerative disease, or to augmented
communication in complex warfare contexts, are discussed as part of
consideration of a larger systems program of development.


Short Bio

Dennis K. McBride has led research in neurocognitive systems development
from basic, to advanced, applied levels at government medical laboratories,
universities, private industry, not-for-profit think tanks, and national
headquarters organizations such as the Office of Naval Research, the Naval
Medical Research Institute, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA).  His research has included efforts at understanding brain
mechanisms and capabilities in exotic/provocative environments to include
g-induced loss of consciousness, simulator sickness, and information
overload ranging from the individual, to the combatant command level.
Dennis' translational research concentration has led to fielding and
commercialization breakthroughs that range from hand-held ultrasound and
advanced neuro-devices, to human focused systems of resilient command and
control.  McBride's formal education includes Ph.D., post-doctoral degrees
and certifications in experimental psychology (University of Georgia),
systems (Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California),
flight test engineering (University of Tennessee Space Institute) and
aerospace medicine (Naval Aerospace Medical Institute).  McBride is a
retired (CAPT) Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychologist.  He serves as
advisor to Congress on neuro-medical issues, such as traumatic brain injury
and stress disorder.  McBride's congressional report, corresponding
legislative language, and championing of the National Neurotechnology
Initiative were instrumental to the nascent, national level effort to "map"
the human brain.  His authored and edited book, Quantifying Human
Information Processing (Rowman-Littlefield) focuses on opportunities for
advanced systems research and development at DARPA. 





Edward Huang

Assistant Professor

Volgenau School of Engineering

George Mason University

Nguyen Engineering Building, Room 2238

Fairfax, VA 22030

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Phone: (703) 993-1672

Fax: (703) 993-1521