Information conveyed through brain-control: Cursor versus robot

Dawn M. Taylor, Stephen Helms Tillery, Andrew B. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Microwire electrode arrays were implanted in the motor and premotor cortical areas of rhesus macaques. The recorded activity was used to control the three-dimensional movements of a virtual cursor and of a robotic arm in real time. The goal was to move the cursor or robot to one of eight targets. Average information conveyed about the intended target was calculated from the observed trajectories at 30-ms intervals throughout the movements. Most of the information about intended target was conveyed within the first second of the movement. For the brain-controlled cursor, the instantaneous information transmission rate was at its maximum at the beginning of each movement (averaged 4.8 to 5.5 bits/s depending on the calculation method used). However, this instantaneous rate quickly slowed down as the movement progressed and additional information became redundant. Information was conveyed more slowly through the brain-controlled robot due to the dynamics and noise of the robot system. The brain-controlled cursor data was also used to demonstrate a method for optimizing information transmission rate in the case where repeated cursor movements are used to make long strings of sequential choices such as in a typing task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-199
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Brain-computer interface (BCI)
  • Brain-machine interface (BMI)
  • Information rates
  • Information theory
  • Neural prosthesis
  • Neurocontrollers
  • Prosthetics
  • Robots
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Internal Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering


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