New Essex lab boasts best equipment of its type in country

  • Date

    Thu 16 Jan 20

experiment in new BCI lab

Our Brain-Computer Interfaces and Neural Engineering (BCI-NE) laboratory has moved to its new, bigger home in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

It is the largest and best equipped of its type in the country and one of the largest in Europe.

The new laboratory has state-of-the-art equipment and a wide range of facilities including three soundproofed Faraday cages (which reduce electromagnetic and ambient noise during experimentation), top-of-the-range brain activity recording devices including electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy, brain stimulation devices, a sophisticated robotic positioning system and virtual reality systems.

The new laboratory will be a valuable new resource for our academics who are working in this growing area of research in neural engineering technologies for both disabled and able-bodied people. Today there are not only a wide range of neuro technologies being trialled that improve communication, decision-making, motor control, memory, attention, learning and problem solving but also large-scale initiatives seeking practical exploitation of such technologies.

The lab will also act as a hub for the new BEng Neural Engineering with Psychology, which will have its first intake of students this October.

Professor Riccardo Poli, co-founder and co-director of the BCI-NE laboratory, has been very successful at developing BCIs to improve decision-making and has received major funding from the Ministry of Defence since 2013 and is leading two large US-UK projects co-funded by the US Department of Defence worth $16.5m.

Commenting on the new lab, Professor Poli said: “We are extremely grateful for the support the School and the University have given the BCI-NE group over the years since its inception 15 years ago. The group has been able to grow and attract talent very successfully over this period.”

Professor Reinhold Scherer, fellow co-director of the laboratory, is world leader in BCI research with extensive experience in developing applications to improve the quality of life for individuals with cognitive and motor disabilities, including those affected by stroke, cerebral palsy, and other neurological disorders. He added: “With the new lab up and running we can now start a new era in BCI-NE research at Essex.

“We are fortunate to have many talented lab members, committed and inquiring students, and an engaging interdisciplinary university environment. This enables us to think ‘outside the box’ and ask the right research questions. Coupled with the ability to provide researchers access to state-of-the-art facilities, we aim to take on a leading position in the research community.”