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Selective Attention to Auditory Stimuli: A Brain-Computer Interface Paradigm




During the last 20 years several paradigms for Brain Computer Interfaces have been proposed— see [1] for a recent review. They can be divided into (a) stimulus-driven paradigms, using e.g. event-related potentials or visual evoked potentials from an EEG signal, and (b) patient-driven paradigms such as those that use premotor potentials correlated with imagined action, or slow cortical potentials (e.g. [2]). Our aim is to develop a stimulus-driven paradigm that is applicable in practice to patients. Due to the unreliability of visual perception in “locked-in” patients in the later stages of disorders such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, we concentrate on the auditory modality. Speci- cally, we look for the effects, in the EEG signal, of selective attention to one of two concurrent auditory stimulus streams, exploiting the increased activation to attended stimuli that is seen under some circumstances [3]. We present the results of our preliminary experiments on normal subjects. On each of 400 trials, two repetitive stimuli (sequences of drum-beats or other pulsed stimuli) could be heard simultaneously. The two stimuli were distinguishable from one another by their acoustic properties, by their source location (one from a speaker to the left of the subject, the other from the right), and by their differing periodicities. A visual cue preceded the stimulus by 500 msec, indicating which of the two stimuli to attend to, and the subject was instructed to count the beats in the attended stimulus stream. There were up to 6 beats of each stimulus: with equal probability on each trial, all 6 were played, or the fourth was omitted, or the fth was omitted. The 40-channel EEG signals were analyzed ofine to reconstruct which of the streams was attended on each trial. A linear Support Vector Machine [4] was trained on a random subset of the data and tested on the remainder. Results are compared from two types of pre-processing of the signal: for each stimulus stream, (a) EEG signals at the stream's beat periodicity are emphasized, or (b) EEG signals following beats are contrasted with those following missing beats. Both forms of pre-processing show promising results, i.e. that selective attention to one or the other auditory stream yields signals that are classiable signicantly above chance performance. In particular, the second pre-processing was found to be robust to reduction in the number of features used for classication (cf. [5]), helping us to eliminate noise.

Author(s): Hill, NJ. and Lal, TN. and Schröder, M. and Hinterberger, T. and Birbaumer, N. and Schölkopf, B.
Volume: 7
Pages: 102
Year: 2004
Month: February
Day: 0
Editors: B{\"u}lthoff, H.H., H.A. Mallot, R. Ulrich and F.A. Wichmann

Department(s): Empirical Inference
Bibtex Type: Poster (poster)

Digital: 0
Event Name: 7th T{\"u}bingen Perception Conference (TWK 2004)
Event Place: T{\"u}bingen, Germany
Organization: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
School: Biologische Kybernetik

Links: PDF


  title = {Selective Attention to Auditory Stimuli: A Brain-Computer Interface Paradigm},
  author = {Hill, NJ. and Lal, TN. and Schr{\"o}der, M. and Hinterberger, T. and Birbaumer, N. and Sch{\"o}lkopf, B.},
  volume = {7},
  pages = {102},
  editors = {B{\"u}lthoff, H.H., H.A. Mallot, R. Ulrich and F.A. Wichmann},
  organization = {Max-Planck-Gesellschaft},
  school = {Biologische Kybernetik},
  month = feb,
  year = {2004},
  month_numeric = {2}