Prediction of isometric handgrip force from graded event-related desynchronization of the sensorimotor rhythm

Chase Haddix, Amir F. Al-Bakri, Sridhar Sunderam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) show promise as a direct line of communication between the brain and the outside world that could benefit those with impaired motor function. But the commands available for BCI operation are often limited by the ability of the decoder to differentiate between the many distinct motor or cognitive tasks that can be visualized or attempted. Simple binary command signals (e.g. right hand at rest versus movement) are therefore used due to their ability to produce large observable differences in neural recordings. At the same time, frequent command switching can impose greater demands on the subject's focus and takes time to learn. Here, we attempt to decode the degree of effort in a specific movement task to produce a graded and more flexible command signal. Approach. Fourteen healthy human subjects (nine male, five female) responded to visual cues by squeezing a hand dynamometer to different levels of predetermined force, guided by continuous visual feedback, while the electroencephalogram (EEG) and grip force were monitored. Movement-related EEG features were extracted and modeled to predict exerted force. Main results. We found that event-related desynchronization (ERD) of the 8-30 Hz mu-beta sensorimotor rhythm of the EEG is separable for different degrees of motor effort. Upon four-fold cross-validation, linear classifiers were found to predict grip force from an ERD vector with mean accuracies across subjects of 53% and 55% for the dominant and non-dominant hand, respectively. ERD amplitude increased with target force but appeared to pass through a trough that hinted at non-monotonic behavior. Significance. Our results suggest that modeling and interactive feedback based on the intended level of motor effort is feasible. The observed ERD trends suggest that different mechanisms may govern intermediate versus low and high degrees of motor effort. This may have utility in rehabilitative protocols for motor impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056033
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • brain computer interface (BCI)
  • effort
  • electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • event-related desynchronization (ERD)
  • force
  • handgrip
  • sensorimotor rhythm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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