Developing Brain-Machine Interfaces that Respond to Attention

Faculty Lead: Sam Michalka

Student Researchers

  • Ava Lakmazaheri ‘20
  • Nick Steelman ‘20
  • Aurora Bunten ‘20
  • Sabrina Tamames ‘20

Research Objectives

Professor Michalka and members of her Human Augmentation Lab are developing brain-machine interfaces to assist people. Brain-machine interfaces record signals from our nervous system and use this information to control external devices. Electroencephalogram (EEG) and other wearable devices record these signals from the brain and body. These data are analyzed using signal processing and machine learning algorithms. The Human Augmentation Lab is specifically working to develop experimental paradigms and algorithms in order to detect the focus of a person’s attention. The output of these systems are commands for robots, computer screens, and augmented reality headsets.


This work aims to enhance our understanding of cognitive neuroscience and to develop personal technological devices that can respond to our intentions and cognitive states. Dr. Michalka and her team are particularly interested in improving user interfaces for heads-up augmented reality, developing training to help people better control their own attention, and creating assistive robotic technologies.

This research project was made possible through a grant from Olin College.