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Towards a robust BCI: error potentials and online learning

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3 Author(s)
Buttfield, A. ; IDIAP Res. Inst., Martigny, Switzerland ; Ferrez, P.W. ; Millan, Jd.R.

Recent advances in the field of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have shown that BCIs have the potential to provide a powerful new channel of communication, completely independent of muscular and nervous systems. However, while there have been successful laboratory demonstrations, there are still issues that need to be addressed before BCIs can be used by nonexperts outside the laboratory. At IDIAP Research Institute, we have been investigating several areas that we believe will allow us to improve the robustness, flexibility, and reliability of BCIs. One area is recognition of cognitive error states, that is, identifying errors through the brain's reaction to mistakes. The production of these error potentials (ErrP) in reaction to an error made by the user is well established. We have extended this work by identifying a similar but distinct ErrP that is generated in response to an error made by the interface, (a misinterpretation of a command that the user has given). This ErrP can be satisfactorily identified in single trials and can be demonstrated to improve the theoretical performance of a BCI. A second area of research is online adaptation of the classifier. BCI signals change over time, both between sessions and within a single session, due to a number of factors. This means that a classifier trained on data from a previous session will probably not be optimal for a new session. In this paper, we present preliminary results from our investigations into supervised online learning that can be applied in the initial training phase. We also discuss the future direction of this research, including the combination of these two currently separate issues to create a potentially very powerful BCI.

Published in:

Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 2 )