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posted on 27.02.2018, 04:20 by Miho Sugi, Yutaka Hagimoto, Isao Nambu, Alejandro Gonzalez, Yoshinori Takei, Shohei Yano, Haruhide Hokari, Yasuhiro Wada

Recently, a brain-computer interface (BCI) using virtual sound sources has been proposed for estimating user intention via electroencephalogram (EEG) in an oddball task. However, its performance is still insufficient for practical use. In this study, we examine the impact that shortening the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) has on this auditory BCI. While very short SOA might improve its performance, sound perception and task performance become difficult, and event-related potentials (ERPs) may not be induced if the SOA is too short. Therefore, we carried out behavioral and EEG experiments to determine the optimal SOA. In the experiments, participants were instructed to direct attention to one of six virtual sounds (target direction). We used eight different SOA conditions: 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, and 1,100 ms. In the behavioral experiment, we recorded participant behavioral responses to target direction and evaluated recognition performance of the stimuli. In all SOA conditions, recognition accuracy was over 85%, indicating that participants could recognize the target stimuli correctly. Next, using a silent counting task in the EEG experiment, we found significant differences between target and non-target sound directions in all but the 200-ms SOA condition. When we calculated an identification accuracy using Fisher discriminant analysis (FDA), the SOA could be shortened by 400 ms without decreasing the identification accuracies. Thus, improvements in performance (evaluated by BCI utility) could be achieved. On average, higher BCI utilities were obtained in the 400 and 500-ms SOA conditions. Thus, auditory BCI performance can be optimized for both behavioral and neurophysiological responses by shortening the SOA.