The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a prestigious Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros to NSMD’s Bettina Sorger. In her project ‘Out of the brain, into control’ she will develop brain-computer interfaces (BCI’s) for children. Congrats Bettina!

With a Vidi grant, laureates can develop an innovative line of research and set up their own research group.  Sorger aims to help children with severe motor impairments that have no way of interacting with their environment. “Imagine, there are parents having never experienced a voluntary choice of their child due to its severe motor disability! The ultimate goal of my Vidi project is to provide such children with a useful BCI so that they will be able to actively participate in life.”

Brain signals

A BCI enables its user to control and interact with the environment; not via motor output, but based on voluntarily evoked brain signals. Such brain signals can be generated, for example, through mental imagery and obtained by various functional-neuroimaging methods such as electroencephalography. “I will use functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) – a method that we might also use in the neurofeedback NSMD project of the Disordered Desires team. Similar to fMRI, fNIRS measures changes in brain hemodynamics that follow changes in neural activity. However, fNIRS is less costly, less motion-sensitive, applicable in daily-life situations and absolutely harmless – making it a perfect method to be applied in children.”

Bettina Sorger is member of the Team Disordered Desires.