University of Malta

Brain Computer Interfacing
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A Brain Computer Interface (BCI) system is a communication system where a person has the ability to communicate with a computer through his or her brain signals rather than using the peripheral nerves and muscles. A BCI system effectively allows for the conversion of patterns of electrical brain activity into commands to control specific equipment. BCI technology relies on the acquisition of electrical signals generated by billions of neurons inside the brain.  The electrical fluctuations that arise from these neurons reach the scalp where they can be detected and recorded by means of non-invasive metal electrodes through a process known as electroencephalography (EEG). In a BCI system EEG data is recorded from the human subject and this is then processed to extract reliable features which can then be mapped into computer based commands such as moving a cursor on a screen or selecting from sets of letters.


There are various neurophysiological phenomena evoking distinctive characteristics in brain signals that are suitable as control signals for BCI systems such as, sensorimotor rhythms, visual evoked potentials and P300 evoked potentials. The department has focused  on the development of EEG signal analysis and processing techniques to extract reliable features for the classification of different mental states. Studies have mainly focused on the development of innovative algorithms for the segmentation of sleep EEG data and to improve the performance of EEG-based BCIs.

We have developed a music player application based on steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEPs) which are electrical potentials evoked in the brain in response to repetitive visual stimulation. This response is exhibited as oscillatory neural activity at the frequency of the flickering stimulus and harmonics thereof, and is prominent in the occipital region of the brain. In the music player application various visual stimuli that induce SSVEPs at different frequencies are associated with distinct commands. A user activates a particular command by focusing on the targeted stimulus. A specific pattern of brain activity related to that stimulus is then automatically identified by the BCI and instantaneously translated into a signal to activate the corresponding music player command. The tests conducted demonstrated a good and reliable performance of the music player application operating in real-time.


This BCI serves as a platform to test different signal processing algorithms with the aim of developing a robust BCI system that can be used outside of the laboratory. Current work is also targeted towards the building of a framework which allows a better understanding of the process involved in the brain with the end goal of extracting more reliable features to enhance the information transfer rate in such systems.This research on BCI systems can lead to improved assisted living devices which can have significant benefits for individuals with restricted mobility. Furthermore, these systems can also be used by healthy users as they can provide a novel way of interacting with entertainment and gaming applications.


PhD Scholarship in Computer Vision


The Department of Systems and Control Engineering is accepting applications for the post of a PhD student to work in collaboration with WildEye. Click here for more information.

Funding Award for WildEye


Research funding awarded to the SCE Department under the FUSION Technology Development Programme (TDP) 2017.

Funding Award for BrainApp


CBC awarded research funding under the FUSION Technology Development Programme (TDP) 2017.

Closing date for MSc course applications


The deadline for late applications for the MSc in Signals, Systems and Control is the 31st August 2017. Click here for more information.

TVM news feature


News feature on the work currently being carried out by our PhD student Ms Rachael Nicole Darmanin, supervised by Dr Ing. Marvin Bugeja. Link here.

PhD scholarships at University of Sheffield, UK


Please click here for more information.

Postdoctoral Position in Robotics and Control


Postdoctoral Position at the University of Le Havre in France. Click here for more information.

MSc by Research - Call for Expression of Interest


The Department of Systems and Control Engineering and the Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics are seeking students who are interested in pursuing studies leading to an MSc in Engineering degree (mainly by research) on any of the topics detailed here.

Postdoctoral Research Position in EEG


[CLOSED] Postdoctoral Research Position in EEG Signal Processing with the Centre for Bionedical Cybernetics. Click here for more information.

Last Updated: 22 April 2016

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