During my studies in biomedical engineering, I became interested in understanding brain function from a practical point of view, which led me to focus on cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience and signal processing. After my studies, I volunteered for some time at the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies, a research center situated in the Wadsworth Center (New York State Health Department) located in Albany, New York. My research was focused on studying a system for comprehensive kinematic/EMG/EEG analyses of locomotion and other motor actions in normal volunteers and in people with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, or other chronic neuromuscular disorders. This project gave me a little taste of neuroscience, rehabilitation, and Brain-Computer Interface (BCI).
After this experience, I decided to volunteer as a neuroscientist resident at OpenBCI, in Brooklyn, NY. OpenBCI stands for “open-source brain-computer interface (BCI)“. The start-up company’s goal was to provide anyone with a computer, the necessary tools to sample the electrical activity of people’s bodies with their versatile and affordable biosensing systems that can be used to sample electrical brain activity (EEG), muscle activity (EMG), heart rate (ECG), body movement, and much more. My line of research was focused on studying the practicalities of the OpenBCI system, and create different projects using all biosensing system (in particular, the EEG system). Moreover, I wrote several posts about how to engage with the OpenBCI system and a few introductory tutorials about programming in MATLAB, EEGLAB, and Python. Just as an anecdote, we were able to hack the throttle of a toy helicopter and we could control it with our brains.
Although my programming and signal processing skills were drastically improved, I felt that I had a lack of neuroscience background and I was not able to do research from a holistic perspective. To counter-balance my knowledge, I enrolled myself in a research master’s in Brain and Cognition at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona. This programme granted me to satisfy my desire to understand how the brain works, learn about perception and attention, and get an introductory basis of computational neuroscience from the cognitive neuroscience and psychological perspective. At this very point, I had an equilibrium of theoretical and practical knowledge about neuroscience and BCI, which gave me the opportunity to undertake my master’s thesis about “A closed-loop BCI based on EEG alpha activity modulated by covert visuospatial attention“. The main goal of the study was to build a classifier able to classify EEG recordings during both offline and online visuospatial attention tasks on a trial-by-trial basis. The alpha power imbalance created when the user-oriented attention to left or right hemifield was used as a control signal for a closed-loop BCI system based on the EEG signal.
Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Brain and Cognition (CBC) at the UPF with the Multisensory Research Grup (MRG). My research interests are focused on hypothesis testing using real-time EEG systems to have a better understanding of the relation between brain oscillations and cognition, particularly in studying the causal relationship between the “attentional” brain state and the behavioural outcome.