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Front Neurosci. 2016 Jul 27;10:349. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00349. eCollection 2016.

Target Speaker Detection with Concealed EEG Around the Ear.

Author information

1
Neuropsychology Lab, Department of Psychology, University of OldenburgOldenburg, Germany; Cluster of Excellence "Hearing4all"Oldenburg, Germany.
2
Department of Engineering, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Oxford Oxford, UK.
3
Neuropsychology Lab, Department of Psychology, University of OldenburgOldenburg, Germany; Cluster of Excellence "Hearing4all"Oldenburg, Germany; Research Center Neurosensory Science, University of OldenburgOldenburg, Germany.

Abstract

Target speaker identification is essential for speech enhancement algorithms in assistive devices aimed toward helping the hearing impaired. Several recent studies have reported that target speaker identification is possible through electroencephalography (EEG) recordings. If the EEG system could be reduced to acceptable size while retaining the signal quality, hearing aids could benefit from the integration with concealed EEG. To compare the performance of a multichannel around-the-ear EEG system with high-density cap EEG recordings an envelope tracking algorithm was applied in a competitive speaker paradigm. The data from 20 normal hearing listeners were concurrently collected from the traditional state-of-the-art laboratory wired EEG system and a wireless mobile EEG system with two bilaterally-placed around-the-ear electrode arrays (cEEGrids). The results show that the cEEGrid ear-EEG technology captured neural signals that allowed the identification of the attended speaker above chance-level, with 69.3% accuracy, while cap-EEG signals resulted in the accuracy of 84.8%. Further analyses investigated the influence of ear-EEG signal quality and revealed that the envelope tracking procedure was unaffected by variability in channel impedances. We conclude that the quality of concealed ear-EEG recordings as acquired with the cEEGrid array has potential to be used in the brain-computer interface steering of hearing aids.

KEYWORDS:

EEG; around-the-ear EEG; attended speaker; cEEGrid; cocktail party; mobile EEG; selective attention; speech decoding

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