Signal-independent noise in intracortical brain-computer interfaces causes movement time properties inconsistent with Fitts' law. Journal of neural engineering Willett, F. R., Murphy, B. A., Memberg, W. D., Blabe, C. H., Pandarinath, C., Walter, B. L., Sweet, J. A., Miller, J. P., Henderson, J. M., Shenoy, K. V., Hochberg, L. R., Kirsch, R. F., Ajiboye, A. B. 2017; 14 (2): 026010


Do movements made with an intracortical BCI (iBCI) have the same movement time properties as able-bodied movements? Able-bodied movement times typically obey Fitts' law: [Formula: see text] (where MT is movement time, D is target distance, R is target radius, and [Formula: see text] are parameters). Fitts' law expresses two properties of natural movement that would be ideal for iBCIs to restore: (1) that movement times are insensitive to the absolute scale of the task (since movement time depends only on the ratio [Formula: see text]) and (2) that movements have a large dynamic range of accuracy (since movement time is logarithmically proportional to [Formula: see text]).Two participants in the BrainGate2 pilot clinical trial made cortically controlled cursor movements with a linear velocity decoder and acquired targets by dwelling on them. We investigated whether the movement times were well described by Fitts' law.We found that movement times were better described by the equation [Formula: see text], which captures how movement time increases sharply as the target radius becomes smaller, independently of distance. In contrast to able-bodied movements, the iBCI movements we studied had a low dynamic range of accuracy (absence of logarithmic proportionality) and were sensitive to the absolute scale of the task (small targets had long movement times regardless of the [Formula: see text] ratio). We argue that this relationship emerges due to noise in the decoder output whose magnitude is largely independent of the user's motor command (signal-independent noise). Signal-independent noise creates a baseline level of variability that cannot be decreased by trying to move slowly or hold still, making targets below a certain size very hard to acquire with a standard decoder.The results give new insight into how iBCI movements currently differ from able-bodied movements and suggest that restoring a Fitts' law-like relationship to iBCI movements may require non-linear decoding strategies.

View details for DOI 10.1088/1741-2552/aa5990

View details for PubMedID 28177925