HSE Team Wins International Hackathon with BCI Game
A team of post-graduate students and researchers from the HSE Centre for Cognition & Decision Making have invented a multiplayer BCI game, which is won by the player who best controls a robot with their mind.
The IEEE International Symposium on Video and Audio Signal Processing in the Context of Neurotechnologies took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 26th and 27th and featured a hackathon, also called the IEEE Brain Data Bank Challenge. Representing HSE at the hackathon were Dmitry Altukhov, Nikolay Smetanin, and Alexandra Kuznetsova, all researchers with the HSE Centre for Cognition & Decision Making. The three are also part of a neurovisualization methods group headed by Alexey Ossadtchi.
The team developed a game in which two people compete to control a robot that is made from Legos and pours drinks into two glasses. After receiving commands from a player, the robot tilts the bottle over a glass. If the bottle is tipped enough, the drink is poured into the glass. The player’s goal is to pour the entire contents of the bottle into their glass. Players can send the robot three different commands: left, right, or stop.
The commands are given to the robot through a brain-computer interface that recognises imaginary movements of the left or right arm. For example, in order to command the robot to tilt the bottle to the left, the players have to think of themselves moving their left arm. In order to move to the right, the players think of moving their right arm, and in order to stop they just have to relax. The player who best concentrates on the thought-up movements pulls the bottle in their direction with the most strength and, as a result, wins.
HSE’s team placed first and took home the grand prize of $500.
Despite the fact that the task is presented in the form of a game, multiplayer BCIs open up new areas of research and allow for important applications to be created.
By analysing the process of a game in which users can both compete against and cooperate with one another (by trying to tilt a glass fastest, for instance), we can study mechanisms of social collaboration from a new angle. And from a technical point of view, having several users allows for a larger number of distinct commands to be given and for complex devices to be co-controlled.
In our opinion, the most promising application lies in therapy for those whose motor functions have been impaired as a result of brain damage. As demonstrated in recent studies, using games to rehabilitate patients after a stroke leads to a quicker recovery of motor activity. Further, using a multiplayer BCI for rehabilitation not only requires significant involvement of the patient’s sensorimotor system in carrying out tasks, but it also fosters social collaboration among several patients in the form of a game, thereby positively impacting recovery.
Russian Researchers Unveil Mechanism Underlying Language Processing Disruptions in Epilepsy Patients
Researchers at HSE University and the Pirogov National Medical and Surgical Centre have examined alterations induced by epilepsy in the language-related neural network within the brain. Using graph-based analysis, the researchers studied fMRI data from 28 patients and found that in epilepsy, both hemispheres of the brain become activated during language processing and short connections form between the hemispheres, while long connections within one hemisphere are disrupted. The study has been published in Epilepsy&Behavior.
HSE, the Pirogov National Medical and Surgical Centre, and the Centre for Speech Pathology and Neurorehabilitation of the Moscow Healthcare Department have signed an agreement on cooperation and the creation of a ‘neuro-consortium’ under the name ‘Transfer of Neurocognitive Technologies’. The new body will boost the development and implementation of advanced solutions in neurotechnology aimed at maintaining and improving people's health. The agreement was signed for five years, and the consortium is open to new participants.
'While it May Sound Futuristic, It Holds Great Promise': Olga Dragoy Shares Her Thoughts on Language Function Restoration and the Future of Neurotechnology
In the spring of 2023, the fifth strategic project of the Priority 2030 programme, 'Human Brain Resilience: Neurocognitive Technologies for Adaptation, Learning, Development and Rehabilitation in a Changing Environment,' was launched at HSE University. The strategic project brings together researchers from all campuses of HSE University. In her interview with the HSE News Service, Olga Dragoy, head of the strategic project and Director of the HSE Centre for Language and Brain, shares an overview of the advanced technologies neuroscientists are creating today, the underlying inspiration driving these efforts, and the operational dynamics of interdisciplinary applied projects.
HSE University in Nizhny recently hosted the 2nd Autumn Neuro-linguistic School ‘NeuroSciCom: Popularising Language and Brain Studies’ for scientists and students at the HSE Centre for Language and Brain Studies in Nizhny Novgorod. The school was held as part of the 'Human Brain Resilience: Neurocognitive Technologies for Adaptation, Learning, Development and Rehabilitation in a Changing Environment' Strategic Project of the Priority 2030 programme.
A team from HSE University’s Faculty of Computer Science took first place in a Rosneft hackathon held in October among the country’s universities. The hackathon was organised by the research institute RN-BashNIPIneft LLC. The competition participants had the chance to try their hand at solving real production problems.
A team of researchers from HSE University and the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (AIRI) have demonstrated the effectiveness of the PSIICOS method they had previously developed for non-invasive mapping the neural networks in the brain based on its electrical activity. Unlike other methods, it does not search for individual neuronal sources to be then combined into networks but instead looks directly for the functional networks of interconnected neuronal populations—and does so swiftly and accurately. The study findings have been published in NeuroImage.
Researchers from HSE University and the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (AIRI) have successfully lowered the latency between a change in brain activity and the presentation of the corresponding neurofeedback signal by a factor of 50. The results were obtained by employing a neural network trained in low-latency filtering of brain activity signals from diverse individuals. This approach opens up new prospects for the treatment of attention deficit disorder and epilepsy. A paper with the study findings has been published in Journal of Neural Engineering.
Online Rhythmic Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Can Reveal the Precise Moment When Preferences Shift in the Human Brain
Cognitive dissonance is a complex and multifaceted psychological phenomenon that arises in challenging decision-making scenarios. Multiple regions of the brain participate in its occurrence, yet the neurodynamics of underlying cognitive mechanisms remain a subject of debate. Researchers from the HSE Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience have proposed the use of online transcranial magnetic stimulation applied to participants as they were actively engaged in tasks, to pinpoint the moment of cognitive dissonance resolution. Their findings have been published in a review paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
A hackathon was held in Nizhny Novgorod for students in grades 9–11 as part of the Data Analysis National Olympiad (DANO). More than 90 school students in grades 9–11 from Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and the surrounding region, St Petersburg, Samara, Cheboksary, and Ufa—a total of 15 Russian regions—took part in the hackathon.
This year, more than 100 students from Russia and abroad took part in the 10th summer neurolinguistic school, ‘Eye-tracking in the Lab and Beyond’. The school is held annually by the HSE Center for Language and Brain. Leading experts spoke about advanced developments and research in the field of video-oculography.