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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2005 Sep;52(9):1588-96.

Visual spatial attention control in an independent brain-computer interface.

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  • 1Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University College Dublin, Belfield Dublin 4, Ireland.


This paper presents a novel brain computer interface (BCI) design employing visual evoked potential (VEP) modulations in a paradigm involving no dependency on peripheral muscles or nerves. The system utilizes electrophysiological correlates of visual spatial attention mechanisms, the self-regulation of which is naturally developed through continuous application in everyday life. An interface involving real-time biofeedback is described, demonstrating reduced training time in comparison to existing BCIs based on self-regulation paradigms. Subjects were cued to covertly attend to a sequence of letters superimposed on a flicker stimulus in one visual field while ignoring a similar stimulus of a different flicker frequency in the opposite visual field. Classification of left/right spatial attention is achieved by extracting steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) elicited by the stimuli. Six out of eleven physically and neurologically healthy subjects demonstrate reliable control in binary decision-making, achieving at least 75% correct selections in at least one of only five sessions, each of approximately 12-min duration. The highest-performing subject achieved over 90% correct selections in each of four sessions. This independent BCI may provide a new method of real-time interaction for those with little or no peripheral control, with the added advantage of requiring only brief training.

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