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PLoS One. 2010 Dec 30;5(12):e14465. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014465.

Identifying object categories from event-related EEG: toward decoding of conceptual representations.

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Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Multivariate pattern analysis is a technique that allows the decoding of conceptual information such as the semantic category of a perceived object from neuroimaging data. Impressive single-trial classification results have been reported in studies that used fMRI. Here, we investigate the possibility to identify conceptual representations from event-related EEG based on the presentation of an object in different modalities: its spoken name, its visual representation and its written name. We used Bayesian logistic regression with a multivariate Laplace prior for classification. Marked differences in classification performance were observed for the tested modalities. Highest accuracies (89% correctly classified trials) were attained when classifying object drawings. In auditory and orthographical modalities, results were lower though still significant for some subjects. The employed classification method allowed for a precise temporal localization of the features that contributed to the performance of the classifier for three modalities. These findings could help to further understand the mechanisms underlying conceptual representations. The study also provides a first step towards the use of concept decoding in the context of real-time brain-computer interface applications.

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