Brain-computer interface (BCI) operation: optimizing information transfer rates.

TitleBrain-computer interface (BCI) operation: optimizing information transfer rates.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsMcFarland, DJ, Sarnacki, WA, Wolpaw, J
JournalBiological psychology
Date Published07/2003
Keywordsaugmentative communication, Electroencephalography, information, Learning, mu rhythm, operant conditioning, prosthesis, Rehabilitation, sensorimotor cortex

People can learn to control mu (8-12 Hz) or beta (18-25 Hz) rhythm amplitude in the EEG recorded over sensorimotor cortex and use it to move a cursor to a target on a video screen. In the present version of the cursor movement task, vertical cursor movement is a linear function of mu or beta rhythm amplitude. At the same time the cursor moves horizontally from left to right at a fixed rate. A target occupies 50% (2-target task) to 20% (5-target task) of the right edge of the screen. The user's task is to move the cursor vertically so that it hits the target when it reaches the right edge. The goal of the present study was to optimize system performance. To accomplish this, we evaluated the impact on system performance of number of targets (i.e. 2-5) and trial duration (i.e. horizontal movement time from 1 to 4 s). Performance was measured as accuracy (percent of targets selected correctly) and also as bit rate (bits/min) (which incorporates, in addition to accuracy, speed and the number of possible targets). Accuracy declined as target number increased. At the same time, for six of eight users, four targets yielded the maximum bit rate. Accuracy increased as movement time increased. At the same time, the movement time with the highest bit rate varied across users from 2 to 4 s. These results indicate that task parameters such as target number and trial duration can markedly affect system performance. They also indicate that optimal parameter values vary across users. Selection of parameters suited both to the specific user and the requirements of the specific application is likely to be a key factor in maximizing the success of EEG-based communication and control.


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