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