Yao L, Sheng X, Zhang D,
, 2017, , IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng, Vol: 25, Pages: 78-87
We propose and test a novel brain-computer interface (BCI) based on imagined tactile sensation. During an imagined tactile sensation, referred to as somatosensory attentional orientation (SAO), the subject shifts and maintains somatosensory attention on a body part, e.g., left or right hand. The SAO can be detected from EEG recordings for establishing a communication channel. To test for the hypothesis that SAO on different body parts can be discriminated from EEG, 14 subjects were assigned to a group who received an actual sensory stimulation (STE-Group), and 18 subjects were assigned to the SAO only group (SAO-Group). In single trials, the STE-Group received tactile stimulation first (both wrists simultaneously stimulated), and then maintained the attention on the selected body part (without stimulation). The same group also performed the SAO task first and then received the tactile stimulation. Conversely, the SAO-Group performed SAO without any stimulation, neither before nor after the SAO. In both the STE-Group and SAO-Group, it was possible to identify the SAO-related oscillatory activation that corresponded to a contralateral event-related desynchronization (ERD) stronger than the ipsilateral ERD. Discriminative information, represented as R2 , was found mainly on the somatosensory area of the cortex. In the STE-Group, the average classification accuracy of SAO was 83.6%, and it was comparable with tactile BCI based on selective sensation (paired-t test, P > 0.05 ). In the SAO-Group the average online performance was 75.7%. For this group, after frequency band selection the offline performance reached 82.5% on average, with ≥ 80% for 12 subjects and ≥ 95% for four subjects. Complementary to tactile sensation, the SAO does not require sensory stimulation, with the advantage of being completely independent from the stimulus.