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Final Report Summary - ANDREA (Active Nanocoated DRy-electrode for Eeg Applications)

Multichannel electroencephalography (EEG) is a well-established method for investigating the function of the human brain. However, despite continuous advancements in signal amplification and data processing, difficult and error-prone signal acquisition on the head surface is still a major issue limiting EEG use in basic and clinical research. The EU-funded ANDREA project (http://www.andreaproject.eu/) integrated a novel concept dry electrode technology with an adjustable cap network, novel active preamplification electronics, and automatic artifact rejection and bad channel interpolation algorithms to meet the requirements for high signal quality and reliability, mobility, high patient/subject comfort and long-term use.

This innovative headset avoids the drawbacks of applying conductive paste to reduce the impedance between the head scalp and the sensor: with traditional "wet" systems, the wearer can develop allergies to the gel, the paste may leak forming cross-bridges between electrodes, or it may dry and cause decreased signal quality.

The ANDREA EEG system is plug-and-play and is designed to combine user comfort with state-of-the-art performance for brain research. The multi-pin dry electrodes are light weight and mechanically flexible with a nanostructured conductive coating for stable and reliable readings. Multi-pin shapes are optimized for different scalp areas to achieve a signal quality comparable to that of wet Ag/AgCl electrodes and to offer maximum comfort for the wearer. The novel adjustable cap network based on compliant bionic mechanisms allows reproducible electrode positioning and a homogeneous and constant contact pressure. A modular concept allows the application of eight to sixty-four electrodes. Active preamplification electronics improves the signal quality at increased electrode-skin impedance levels. Together with algorithms for automatic artefact rejection and improved usability functions, the system can detect and reject artefactual components in EEG datasets recorded with different cap layouts and in various experimental conditions, also including motion.

Therefore, the implementation of the ANDREA project has generated innovation in several key aspects of EEG acquisition technology. Preparation time was shortened and the preparatory procedure was simplified. Signal quality and reliability, and wearer comfort were improved with respect to existing dry EEG systems. EEG signal preprocessing was largely improved. The overall costs for EEG monitoring were decreased, and environmental contamination and energy consumption due to decreased consumables for preparation and subsequent cleaning were reduced.

These novel technologies can be exploited in a broad range of EEG applications, from the clinic to sports and movement science, as they permit to overcome the main drawbacks of traditional EEG systems. In the clinic, neurologists were generally able to reach a diagnosis based on the dry EEG monitoring. This could enable medical professionals to gain deeper insights into particularly challenging neurological conditions like epilepsy, for which the big advantage of using dry electrodes is the possibility of rapidly mounting a high-density cap during an epileptic crisis, and reconstruct the epileptic foci from the EEG for accurate surgery.

The ANDREA work plan included a developmental phase followed by the validation of a first prototype EEG system in neurological patients and athletes to assessed rapid montage, easiness of acquisition, coating resistance, adduction forces, low electrode’s impedance, signal quality and stability, wearer comfort, long-term use, and the effectiveness of the automatic artefact removal algorithms. The system (all hardware and software components) was then re-engineered and improved on the basis of the obtained performance, re-tested and finalized.

To achieve these results, the five ANDREA partners (Coordinator BIND – Behavioral Imaging and Neural Dynamics Center, Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” di Chieti-Pescara, Italy; BMTI – Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Informatics, Technische Universitaet Ilmenau, Germany; eemagine Medical Imaging Solutions GmbH, Berlin, Germany; Department of Neurology, Casa di Cura Privata Villa Serena, Città S.Angelo, Italy; Faculty of Engineering, Universidade do Porto, Portugal) pooled their interdisciplinary and intersectoral know-how and resources, implemented an extensive transfer of knowledge through collaborative research and a total of ninety-nine intersectoral secondment-months, and recruited experienced researchers from outside the ANDREA network to complement their expertise.

As a result of joint research, intersectoral mobility and transfer of knowledge, the research capacity, international visibility and competitiveness of each partner was significantly increased and the career perspective of individual ANDREA fellows was enhanced. Also, existing collaborations were reinforced and new collaborations have started leading to several well-received interdisciplinary scientific publications. As a matter of fact, the ANDREA network is expected to become a permanent EU research network promoting health technology in Europe. Indeed, some ANDREA partners have already submitted new project proposals for the development of dry electrodes suitable to monitor brain function in newborns and prevent neurological, cognitive and motor impairment in later life. This presents new challenges related to skin sensitivity of such young subjects. Another project proposal relates to social interaction and coordination studies that must incorporate full-body motion to be meaningful. The dry EEG system must therefore be robust with extremely stable skin-electrode contact for reliable brain signal monitoring.

Finally, the ANDREA partners performed a grand total of 82 dissemination activities to address a wide audience, including the general public. National and international scientific conferences, international fairs, events organized by scientific societies, open days at universities, Marie Curie Ambassador and broadcasting activities were means to promote a broader communication on the importance of research in biomedical engineering for the society. Six training courses and the final ANDREA Workshop were organized for a more specialist dissemination of the project results. These events were attended by researchers and industrial representative from all over the world, including Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, UK, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Sweden, Iceland, USA, Australia, China, Iran, India, Cuba, Japan, Canada and Malaysia.

Further information on all ANDREA activities (research, meetings, training courses, secondments, recruitments, and dissemination of research results) can be found in the ANDREA website (www.andreaproject.eu/) or can be required to project coordinator Prof. Silvia Comani (comani@unich.it).

Reported by

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI GABRIELE D'ANNUNZIO DI CHIETI-PESCARA
Italy

Subjects

Life Sciences
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