Decoding Imagined 3D Hand Movement Trajectories From EEG: Evidence to Support the Use of Mu, Beta, and Low Gamma Oscillations

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Objective: To date, motion trajectory prediction (MTP) of a limb from non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) has relied, primarily, on band-pass filtered samples of EEG potentials i.e., the potential time-series model. Most MTP studies involve decoding 2D and 3D arm movements i.e., executed arm movements. Decoding of observed or imagined 3Dmovements has been demonstratedwith limited success and only reported in a few studies. MTP studies normally use EEG potentials filtered in the low delta (∼1Hz) band for reconstructing the trajectory of an executed or an imagined/observed movement. In contrast to MTP, multiclass classification based sensorimotor rhythm brain-computer interfaces aim to classify movements using the power spectral density of mu (8–12Hz) and beta (12–28Hz) bands.
Approach: We investigated if replacing the standard potentials time-series input with a power spectral density based bandpower time-series improves trajectory decoding accuracy of kinesthetically imagined 3D hand movement tasks (i.e., imagined 3D trajectory of the hand joint) and whether imagined 3D hand movements kinematics are encoded also in mu and beta bands. Twelve naïve subjects were asked to generate or imagine generating pointing movements with their right dominant arm to four targets distributed in 3D space in synchrony with an auditory cue (beep).
Main results: Using the bandpower time-series based model, the highest decoding accuracy for motor execution was observed in mu and beta bands whilst for imagined movements the low gamma (28–40Hz) band was also observed to improve decoding accuracy for some subjects. Moreover, for both (executed and imagined) movements, the bandpower time-series model with mu, beta, and low gamma bands produced significantly higher reconstruction accuracy than the commonly used potential time-series model and delta oscillations.
Significance: Contrary to many studies that investigated only executed hand movements and recommend using delta oscillations for decoding directional information of a single limb joint, our findings suggest that motor kinematics for imagined movements are reflected mostly in power spectral density of mu, beta and low gamma bands, and that these bands may be most informative for decoding 3D trajectories of imagined limb movements.
Original languageEnglish
Article number130
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 Mar 2018


  • brain-computer interface
  • motor imagery
  • imagined arm movement
  • motion trajectory prediction
  • electroencephalography


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