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Front Neurosci. 2012 Nov 19;6:169. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00169. eCollection 2012.

How Many People Could Use an SSVEP BCI?

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g.tec Medical Engineering GmbH, Guger Technologies OG Graz, Styria, Austria.


Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) are communication systems that allow people to send messages or commands without movement. BCIs rely on different types of signals in the electroencephalogram (EEG), typically P300s, steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP), or event-related desynchronization. Early BCI systems were often evaluated with a selected group of subjects. Also, many articles do not mention data from subjects who performed poorly. These and other factors have made it difficult to estimate how many people could use different BCIs. The present study explored how many subjects could use an SSVEP BCI. We recorded data from 53 subjects while they participated in 1-4 runs that were each 4 min long. During these runs, the subjects focused on one of four LEDs that each flickered at a different frequency. The eight channel EEG data were analyzed with a minimum energy parameter estimation algorithm and classified with linear discriminant analysis into one of the four classes. Online results showed that SSVEP BCIs could provide effective communication for all 53 subjects, resulting in a grand average accuracy of 95.5%. About 96.2% of the subjects reached an accuracy above 80%, and nobody was below 60%. This study showed that SSVEP based BCI systems can reach very high accuracies after only a very short training period. The SSVEP approach worked for all participating subjects, who attained accuracy well above chance level. This is important because it shows that SSVEP BCIs could provide communication for some users when other approaches might not work for them.


SSVEP; brain-computer interface; brain-machine interface; motor imagery; steady-state visual evoked potential

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