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Dr. Ojemann

Research Labs:
Ojemann Lab


Research Overview

The GRID Lab is interested in using electrocorticography (ECoG) to answer basic neuroscience questions as well as to develop tools for clinical and rehabilitative applications. ECoG, which is used for long-term clinical monitoring of epilepsy patients, provides a unique opportunity to collect intracranial cortical data from awake, behaving humans. The group, under the direction of Dr. Ojemann, represents researchers from a wide range of backgrounds including neurosurgery, neurology, rehabilitative medicine, engineering, neuroscience, and physics. A major focus of the group is brain-computer interfaces; current projects include learning mechanisms, tactile feedback, and recursive stimulation. Also under investigation are more fundamental questions about cortical representation of simple and complex hand movements, the dynamics of cognition, language, and higher-order nonlinear interactions between brain areas. Other projects include integration of ECoG and fMRI and studies of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Grid Lab

Investigators /Researchers

  • Jeff G. Ojemann, MD

    Jeff Ojemann

    Jeff G. Ojemann, MD, is a Professor of Neurological Surgery and holds the Richard G. Ellenbogen Chair in Pediatric Neurological Surgery. His laboratory focuses on the signals obtained from patients with subdural electrodes implanted for the localization of intractable seizures. Using a variety of signal processing techniques, correlates of motor and other behaviors are used to map cortical function and to provide control signals for brain-computer interfaces, including computer cursor control and robotic hands. Related projects include the use of recursive stimulation to promote plasticity, pre-operative rehabilitation to mitigate deficits, and use of functional imaging in neurosurgical settings. His background includes a degree in Physics from Princeton University, medical school and residency at Washington University in St. Louis and a K23 project in fMRI in temporal lobectomy mentored by Drs. Marcus Raichle and Steve Petersen. As an affiliate of the Center for Sensorimotor Engineering, Integrative Brain Imaging Center, and Center for Integrative Brain Research, he is focused on neurosurgical opportunities to advance neuroscience.

  • Felix Darvas, PhD

    Felix Darvas

    Felix Darvas' research interests are in direct brain-computer-interaction (BCI) and the study of complex cortical networks involved during such interactions. He is primarily using non-invasive methods for studying brain function in real time, such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG). His main focus is on developing multi-modal control signals for BCI and methods to detect causal interaction. He is also engaged in studies to push the limits of EEG/MEG signal detection into frequency ranges of the human brain that were previously assumed to be the exclusive domain of invasive electrocorticography (i.e. direct recordings form the cortex). In order to establish usable control signals for BCI, he has also studied the human motor system extensively.

  • Lise Johnson, PhD

    Lise Johnson

    Lise Johnson, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research associate in the department of Neurological Surgery. She received her B.S. in Physics from the University of Oklahoma in 2003 and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Arizona in 2010. She is broadly interested in ECoG based brain-computer interfaces and specifically in how the brain changes in response to training. She is currently involved with two projects; one examining how sleep architecture is changed by learning to use a BCI and the other investigating how tactile feedback impacts BCI skill acquisition. In addition to her research activities, she is interested in science education and improving science literacy.

  • Tim Blakely, MS

    Tim Blakely

    Tim Blakely, M.S., is a Bioengineering graduate student studying the interactions between areas in the brain, specifically interactions that occur when subjects are learning to control a brain-computer interface. His thesis is an investigation into the small-scale interactions in primary motor cortex during highly dexterous hand motions. He pursued a Computer Science degree while doing undergraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis and completed a masters in Robotics.

  • Jeremiah Wander, BS

    Jeremiah Wander Jeremiah Wander, B.S., is a graduate student in the Bioengineering department at UW. His research interests are centered around analysis of population level cortical signals, use of these signals for BCI applications and leveraging these signals in rehabilitation applications. Previously, he received two B.S. degrees, one in computer engineering and another in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. After completion of his undergraduate degrees, Jeremiah worked in a research lab in Milan, Italy helping develop an automated stroke rehabilitation system. He also worked for a biopharmaceutical OEM in Apex, NC, played music professionally and spent a year and a half building homes for underprivileged families in Costa Rica. To complement his graduate studies with a thorough understanding of business principles and entrepreneurial skills, Jeremiah participates in the Science and Engineering Business Association and is currently the VP of Membership.


  • Kurt Weaver, PhD

    Kurt Weaver

    Kurt Weaver, Ph.D., is a research assistant professor in the department of Radiology. He is interested in how aberrant function and physiology of the default mode network (DMN) contributes to the clinical symptomatology of various neurological and psychiatric disorders. The existence of the DMN is a recent observation that has gained significant traction within systems neuroscience. This is due in part to the finding that elevated activity including blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) activity (the blood flow alterations resolved by fMRI linked to neuronal potentials) within the DMN can impede activity within other functional neural networks responsible for constructing any number of normal cognitive functions and behaviors. Consequently, a variety of neurological (such Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease) and Psychiatric (such as Schizophrenia, Autism and ADHD) disease states have been linked with abnormal DMN activity. Through his K01 project, he will combine fMRI with both surface based electrocorticography (ECoG) and scalp based electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to examine DMN neurophysiological activity during a variety of functional behaviors. Through these studies, he and his collaborators seek to gain a better understanding the natural physiology of the DMN with the hope that this will lead to a greater mechanistic understanding of how DMN dysfunction contributes to various brain diseases.

  • Jared Olson, MD

    Jared Olson

    Jared D Olson, M.D., is an Acting Instructor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, with research interests in cortical sensorimotor function and brain-computer interface, supported by the Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program (RMSTP) K-12 award. He has a clinical interest in neurorehabilitation and neuroplasticity after injury. He earned his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in 2008 and completed residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Washington. Originally from Colorado, he holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two kids and loves to spend time with family and friends, and to read, bicycle, hike, sail, and make beer.

  • Conor Sayres, BS

    Conor Sayres

    Conor Sayres, B.S., graduated from UW in 2010 with degrees in Physics and Astronomy. As an undergrad, he was awarded a Mary Gates Research Scholarship to study coherence structure in ECOG recordings with Professors Larry Sorensen and Jeff Ojemann. Since graduation, he has continued working with group members and collaborators. His current projects focus on data management, cortical surface reconstructions, and microgrid array ECOG recordings. His interests are data mining, signal analysis, travel, and skiing.

  • Kai J. Miller, MD

  • Melissa Smith, BS

    Melissa Ralston

    Melissa Smith, B.S., is a Neurobiology and Behavior graduate student working with advisor Dr. Rajesh Rao. Melissa received her bachelor’s degree in cellular biology from Western Washington University. After graduating, she spent the next five years as a research technician in the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Her project at Seattle Children’s focused on developing treatments for craniopharyngioma patients. Her interests eventually grew towards cortical control of movement and neural interface systems. Her current work is focused on EEG-based brain-computer interfaces.

Affiliate Members

  • Rajesh P.N. Rao, PhD

    Rajesh Rao

    Rajesh P.N. Rao, PhD, is an associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. The primary goal of his research is to discover the computational principles underlying the brain's remarkable ability to learn, process and store information, and to apply this knowledge to the task of building adaptive robotic systems. and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). He uses a combination of probabilistic techniques, computer simulations, and collaborative neurobiological experiments. Such an interdisciplinary approach has provided functional interpretations of several otherwise puzzling neurobiological properties while at the same time suggesting biologically-inspired solutions to problems in computer vision, robotics and artificial intelligence.

  • Marcel den Nijs, PhD

    Marcel Den Nijs

    Marcel den Nijs, Ph.D., is a professor in the department of Physics. He is interested in equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and low dimensional quantum field theory, with applications to surface science, on dimensional quantum fluids and solids, and to neuroscience.

  • Larry Sorensen, PhD

    Larry Sorensen

    Larry Sorensen, PhD is a Professor of Physics at the University of Washington.

  • Eberhard E. Fetz, PhD

    Eberhard Fetz

    Dr. Eberhard Fetz is a Professor in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at UW, and is the principal investigator on the Keck Foundation grant. His team is working on a tiny implantable computer to record from and stimulate the brain, spinal cord and muscles.

  • Shahin Hakimian, MD

    Shahin Hakimian

    Shahin Hakimian, M.D., is a neurologist at Harborview Medical Center. His research interests include corticography, brain mapping, EEG signal processing for seizure localization, physiological topography of EEG signals and their significance in various conditions including sleep and chronic pain, signal processing by population models of neurons, and in-silico models of populations of neurons.

  • John Miller, MD

    John Miller

    John Miller, M.D., is a UW professor of neurology and director of the UW Regional Epilepsy Center. His research interests include new methods of locating the seizure focus, optimizing presurgical workup and animal models of epilepsy.

  • Ceon Ramon, PhD

    Ceon Ramon

    Ceon Ramon, Ph.D., has been involved in neuroscience research for the last 20 years. His main interest is in computer modeling of the electrical activity of the brain under normal and diseased conditions and its application to epilepsy. He has built 3-D anatomically realistic models of human heads which are being used all over the world for modeling of the electrical activity of human brain. His main focus is on phase synchronization studies, EEG and phase transitions. He also works with high density (256 channel) scalp EEG and cortical (EcoG) data for noninvasive epilepsy detection and language mapping. He currently holds an affiliate professorship in electrical engineering at the UW and professor of bioengineering at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

2011 Summer Interns

  • Anthony Wohns

    Anthony Wohns

    Anthony Wohns is a senior at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington. He spent eight weeks in the GRID Lab, presenting papers, learning MATLAB (a computer programming language), and creating the lab website, among other work. His areas of research interest include electrocortiocography mapping with multilingual patients. Anthony is also an avid runner, violinist, mountain climber, and martial artist.

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Current Research

brain computer interface

Current ECoG studies involve implanting assorted electrode arrays onto the surface of the brain and through biofeedback, testing the capacity of patients to control the specificity of their brainwaves at an electrode location. Tests involve moving a cursor toward a location based on a bimodal characterization of brainwaves, though tests have suggested that a subject may be able to accurately control an object within a multimodal model, moving it towards up to five different locations.

Furthermore, over the course of several days of practice, it has been shown that a subject's precision and accuracy greatly increase. These brain-computer interface learning curves are being compared with motor movement learning curves.

Utilizing a 24-channel passive electrode system, the electroencephalography (EEG) studies seek to differentiate the high gamma signals of motor mirror neurons when the subject views a hand movement versus a bush moving. Research has shown that beta waves are generally suppressed upon observation of movement however, when seeing a moving bush, beta waves have been found to rebound after suppression.

Future experiments may involve increasingly humanoid objects in order to further characterize movement-observation response and test the hypothesis of whether our response to movement is stronger, the more physically pertinent the movement is.

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Research Questions

Paralysis is one of the most debilitating effects of central nervous system injuries and disorders and with an estimated 5.6 million people with some degree of paralysis in the United States, the need for re-enablement grows. Almost 1.3 million have suffered a form of spinal cord injury, often producing complete loss of muscle control beneath the point of injury. Neuroprosthetics or brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are devices that record neural activity from specific brain regions and convert that information to drive limb prostheses.

Most current BCIs seek to use the slow P300 brainwave, that arises from active expectation, but few current BCI proposals utilize only brain signals and fewer still focus on the promise of the faster high gamma brainwaves, that appear to represent movement, movement-thought, and movement-imagery. Using cutting edge technology and the two-pronged approach of EEG and ECoG, it is the mission of the Ojemann laboratory to characterize these high gamma brainwaves in order to significantly improve the speed and efficacy of neuroprosthetics, that may one day restore limb function to paralyzed patients.

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Research Highlights

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Research Methods

  • Electrocorticography tests of muscle and movement differentiation, as well as imagery and thought-based, multimodal BCI training and learning curves
  • 24 channel electroencephalography studies involving high gamma brainwave response from mirror motor neurons and human brain mapping models
  • Neurophysics circuit simulation of neural cortex and electrode array placement and arrangement

Ongoing Research Support

  • R01 NS065186-01 (PI: Ojemann) 4/1/2010- 3/31/2015
    “Electrocorticography signals for human hand prosthetics”
    Using linear and nonlinear measures of motor function, with feedback, to control a prosthetic hand.
  • National Science Foundation, NSF 0930908 (PI: R. Rao) 9/1/2009-8/31/2012
    “Electrocorticographic Brain-Machine Interfaces for Communication and Prosthetic Control”
    Development of abstraction signals and interfaces to achieve device control with electrocorticography
  • Life Science Discovery Fund (Washington State) 08-01 (PI: E. Fetz) 11/2008-10/2011
    “Brain-Computer Interfaces for Functional Recovery from Brain Injury”
    Assess the effect of activity-based stimulation on neuronal plasticity.
  • NIH/NINDS, RC4 NS073008 (PI: T. Grabowski) 9/30/2010-8/31/2013.
    “IBIC: Integrated Brain Imaging Center for the University of Washington”
    Supports a group of imaging resources including using fMRI to guide and inform motor BCI studies.
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • NIH/NINDS, R01 NS073120 (PI: E. Todorov) 6/1/2010-5/31/2014
    “CRCNS: Hybrid non-invasive brain-machine interfaces for 3D object manipulation”
    EEG, EMG, and electrocorticography measures of complex hand movements
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • University of Washington Royalty Research Fund A61872 (PI: D. Kendall) 7/1/2011-6/30/2012
    “Reorganization of language prior to anterior temporal lobe surgery: Can deficits be mitigated?”
    Pre-operative training of specific naming tasks at risk from brain resection
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • W.M. Keck Foundation (PI: E. Fetz) 1/1/2011-12/31/2013
    “Implantable Computers to Augment Brain Function”,
    Development of a multi-channel stimulating electrode array for recurrent brain-computer interface
    Role: Co-Investigator

Completed (last 3 years)

  • National Science Foundation, NSF 0642848 (PI: RPN Rao) 4/1/2007-3/31/2010
    Exploring the Neural Dynamics of Cognition through Human Electrocorticography
    Studies the rapid time scale interaction between regions for various cognitive tasks
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • Mitochondrial Research Fund, Seattle Children’s Research Institute 10/01/2007-3/31/2010 “Functional MRI of the cerebellum in mitochondrial disease” FMRI, DTI, and structural imaging of children with mitochondrial disorders and controls. Role: Principal Investigator
  • National Science Foundation, NSF 622252 (PI: RPN Rao) 9/1/2006-8/31/2009
    BIC: Probabilistic Neural Computation: Models and Applications in Robotics and Brain-Machine Interfaces
    Bayesian modeling to enhance brain-computer interface
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator

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Bibliography of Selected Publications

  1. Miller KJ, Schalk G, Fetz EE, den Nijs M, Ojemann JG, Rao RP. Cortical activity during motor execution, motor imagery, and imagery-based online feedback. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Mar 2;107(9):4430-5. Epub 2010 Feb 16. Erratum in: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 13;107(15):7113. PMID: 20160084
  2. Miller KJ, Sorensen LB, Ojemann JG, den Nijs M. Power-law scaling in the brain surface electric potential. PLoS Comput Biol. 2009 Dec;5(12):e1000609. Epub 2009 Dec 18.PMID: 20019800
  3. Darvas F, Scherer R, Ojemann JG, Rao RP, Miller KJ, Sorensen LB. High gamma mapping using EEG. Neuroimage. 2010 Jan 1;49(1):930-8. Epub 2009 Aug 26.PMID: 19715762
  4. Blakely T, Miller KJ, Zanos SP, Rao RP, Ojemann JG. Robust, long-term control of an electrocorticographic brain-computer interface with fixed parameters. Neurosurg Focus. 2009 Jul;27(1):E13.PMID: 19569888
  5. Darvas F, Ojemann JG, Sorensen LB. Bi-phase locking - a tool for probing non-linear interaction in the human brain. Neuroimage. 2009 May 15;46(1):123-32. Epub 2009 Feb 3.PMID: 19457390
  6. Miller KJ, Zanos S, Fetz EE, den Nijs M, Ojemann JG. Decoupling the cortical power spectrum reveals real-time representation of individual finger movements in humans. J Neurosci. 2009 Mar 11;29(10):3132-7.PMID: 19279250
  7. Zanos S, Miller KJ, Ojemann JG. Electrocorticographic spectral changes associated with ipsilateral individual finger and whole hand movement. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2008;2008:5939-42.PMID: 19164072
  8. Miller KJ, Blakely T, Schalk G, den Nijs M, Rao RP, Ojemann JG. Three cases of feature correlation in an electrocorticographic BCI. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2008;2008:5318-21.PMID: 19163918
  9. Blakely T, Miller KJ, Rao RP, Holmes MD, Ojemann JG. Localization and classification of phonemes using high spatial resolution electrocorticography (ECoG) grids. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2008;2008:4964-7.PMID: 19163831
  10. Darvas F, Miller KJ, Rao RP, Ojemann JG. Nonlinear phase-phase cross-frequency coupling mediates communication between distant sites in human neocortex. J Neurosci. 2009 Jan 14;29(2):426-35.PMID: 19144842
  11. Scherer R, Stavros Z, Miller KJ, Rao RP, Ojemann JG. Classification of contralateral and ipsilateral finger movements for electrocorticographic brain-computer interfaces. Neurosurg Focus. 2009 July; 27(1): E12. doi: 10.3171/2009.4.FOCUS0981.
  12. Miller KJ, Shenoy P, den Nijs M, Sorensen LB, Rao RN, Ojemann JG. Beyond the gamma band: the role of high-frequency features in movement classification. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2008 May;55(5):1634-7.PMID: 18440909

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External Links

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Contact Information

For more information on the Ojemann Lab, contact:

Phone: (206) 987-4240
Fax: (206) 987-3925

Seattle Children’s Hospital
Department of Neurological Surgery
4800 Sand Point Way, NE
Seattle, WA 98105

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Published Research Articles

View complete lists of current research publications by faculty from the Department of Neurological Surgery.

Participate in Clinical Trials

The Department of Neurological Surgery is currently seeking volunteers for clinical trials.

Follow the link to learn more about participating in these studies.

Featured Faculty:

Samuel Browd, MD, PhD

Dr. Browd specializes in pediatric neurosurgery, specifically with children who have hydrocephalus, brain & spinal cord tumors, pediatric cervical spine, spina bifida, chiari malformations, and spacticity.

View the Interview

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