Deployment of a Mobile Wireless EEG System to Record Brain Activity Associated with Physical Navigation in the Blind: A Proof of Concept

  • Christopher R. BennettEmail author
  • Laura Dubreuil Vall
  • Jorge Leite
  • Giulio Ruffini
  • Lotfi B. Merabet
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 903)


Little is known about how the brain processes information while navigating without visual cues. Technical limitations recording brain activity during real-world navigation have impeded research in this field. We have developed a study paradigm that benefits from wireless EEG recording technology. Participants heard a sequence of directional commands instructing them to physically or mentally navigate a 3 × 3 m grid. Data from a sighted control and an individual with profound blindness highlight the viability of the technology. A power spectral density analysis on the alpha frequency band during the physical navigation task revealed diffuse signal fluctuations for the blind participant, while a more robust signal within occipital-parietal regions was seen for the sighted control. Both participants displayed highly similar signal fluctuations during mental navigation. This work demonstrates the feasibility of brain activity recording during navigation-related tasks using a wireless EEG system for identifying brain processing patterns associated with visual experience.


Mobile EEG Visual impairment Navigation 



This work was supported by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (R01 EY019924-08).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher R. Bennett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Dubreuil Vall
    • 2
  • Jorge Leite
    • 3
  • Giulio Ruffini
    • 2
  • Lotfi B. Merabet
    • 1
  1. 1.The Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity, Department of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear InfirmaryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Neuroelectrics CorporationCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Neuromodulation Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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