Direct Brain Interface Laboratory

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Department of Biomedical Engineering


Research Group

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  Our Lab History and Vision  

The UM-DBI lab combines many years of BCI research and close clinical ties to assistive technology service delivery with a strong engineering background. The UM-DBI laboratory was co-founded by Dr. Simon Levine and Dr. Jane Huggins, the current principal investigator. The term Direct Brain Interface is intended to emphasize the function of the BCI as a direct connection between the human brain and various kinds of technologies (not just computers). With funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the Department of Education and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the UM-DBI laboratory pioneered BCI research based on electrocorticogram (ECoG) from electrodes implanted inside the skull. In recent years, the UM-DBI Laboratory has focused on non-invasive BCIs using electroencephalogram (EEG) with funding from the Cerebral Palsy Alliciance Research, National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Eunice Kennedy National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), NIDRR, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (MICHR), and the Mildred E. Swanson Foundation.

The UM-DBI laboratory's close clinical ties have fueled a desire to see the rapid advance of some form of BCI to clinical availability and an awareness of the limited nature of many of the BCI-specific applications developed for BCI operation. Funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the NIH enabled the creation of a BCI that can operate as a plug-and-play replacement for a standard USB keyboard as well as providing access to other assistive technology and the development of novel BCI control capabilities. Funding from NIDRR enabled study of the BCI design priorities and preferences of people with a variety of disabling conditions as well as testing with a variety of potential BCI users.

Current funding from MICHR and the Mildred E. Swanson Foundation are enabling development of a BCI for cognitive testing. Future research directions include interfacing BCIs to commercially available assistive technologies, improving BCI response time and no-control performance, identifying features and support necessary for successful independent BCI use by people with physical impairments, identifying the design preferences and priorities of potential BCI users, BCI applications in cognitive testing, and the identification and accommodation of user-specific characteristics that affect BCI function.

  Principal Investigator  
Jane Huggins, Ph.D.
    Associate Research Scientist
    Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    Department of Biomedical Engineering
    Huggins Neuroscience Graduate Program
    University of Michigan.

    Dr. Huggins received her B.S. in Computer Engineering with a Biomedical Engineering option and an Art Minor from Carnegie Mellon. She received a M.S. in Bioengineering, a M.S.E. in Computer Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She completed a clinical Rehabilitation Engineering Internship. While working on her dissertation, she founded the University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface Laboratory with Dr. Simon Levine. Dr. Huggins has been the director of the University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface Laboratory since 2007. Her current focus is making EEG-based brain-computer interfaces practical for people who need them. Outside the lab, Dr. Huggins enjoys knitting, horseback riding, birdwatching, cooking, and being Mom to her two school-age children.

    Dr. Huggins is a founding member of the board of directors of the Brain-Computer Interface Society. She also organized
    the 5th and 6th International Brain-Computer Interface Meetings in 2013 and 2016.


Jian Kang, Ph.D.
Jacqueline N. Kaufman, Ph.D.
Avi Dutt-Mazumder, Ph.D.
  Research Technician Associate  
Marco Garcia
    BS Technician
    University of Michigan.

    Marco Garcia graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Information, Science and Technology (ISTA). He is currently working to support and provide assistance with EEG and Eye-Tracking set ups in the laboratory. In his leisure time he enjoys reading, going to coffee shops, and fight the snow.

  Graduate Students  
Zhonghao Zhao
    MS Student
    Zhonghao University of Michigan.

    Zhonghao(Sam) graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering (EE) from Zhejiang University (ZJU, China) and is now pursuing his master degree in University of Michigan. His interest is in improving efficiency and accuracy of BCI for product improvement / commercialization.

  Undergraduate Students  
Sean Garrett
Sean Garrett
    Undergraduate Student
    Weinberg Institute for Cognitive Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Sean is a junior from Vicksburg, Michigan pursuing a degree in Computational Cognitive Science with a minor in Moral and Political Philosophy. He joined the Direct Brain Interface Laboratory in 2016 through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. Outside of classes and research, Sean enjoys writing, reading, meditating, playing drums, and supporting the local DIY music scene.

Sneha Rajen
    Undergraduate Student
    Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Sneha is a sophomore from Novi, Michigan. Her interests are in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and human cognition. On campus, she is a statistics and math tutor and am involved in volunteer work with elderly assisted care residents. Other interests include: making puzzles, listening to podcasts, and advocating for mental health.

Rohit Sampathi
    Undergraduate Student
    LSA Computer Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Rohit is a sophomore undergraduate majoring in Computer Science at the University of Michigan. He is currently working on adding features to the BCI2000.

Brendan Duff
    Undergraduate Student
    LSA Cognitive Science,
    University of Michigan.

    Brendan is sophomore from New Jersey. He is planning to double major in Computational Cognitive Science and Computer Science. His academic interests reside in the brain, consciousness, artificial intelligence, and many related fields. In his free time, Brendan enjoys reading, playing/watching sports and listening to music.

  Past Fellows and Graduates  
Abdulrahman Aref
    PhD Student 2010 - 2017
    Department of Biomedical Engineering,
    University of Michigan.

    Disseration Title: Improving Brain-Computer Interface Performance By Using Dynamic Methods Based on Analysis of Cognitive State

Ramses Eduardo Alcaide Aguirre
    PhD Student 2010 - 2017
    Neuroscience Program,
    University of Michigan.

    Disseration Title: Evaluating a Novel Brain-Computer Interface and EEG Biomarkers for Cognitive Assessment in Children with Cerebral Palsy

Stefanie Blain-Moraes
David Thompson
    PhD Student 2008 - 2012
    Department of Biomedical Engineering,
    University of Michigan.

    Dissertation Title: Unlocking Possibilities While Preserving Performance: Putting the "Interface" Back in Brain-Computer Interface
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