Spatial covariance improves BCI performance for late ERPs components with high temporal variability

Objective. Event Related Potentials (ERPs) reflecting cognitive response to external stimuli, are widely used in brain computer interfaces. ERP waveforms are characterized by a series of components of particular latency and amplitude. The classical ERP decoding methods exploit this waveform characteristic and thus achieve a high performance only if there is sufficient time- and phase-locking across trials. The required condition is not fulfilled if the experimental tasks are challenging or if it is needed to generalize across various experimental conditions. Features based on spatial covariances across channels can potentially overcome the latency jitter and delays since they aggregate the information across time. Approach. We compared the performance stability of waveform and covariance-based features as well as their combination in two simulated scenarios: 1) generalization across experiments on Error-related Potentials and 2) dealing with larger latency jitter across trials. Main results. The features based on spatial covariances provide a stable performance with a minor decline under jitter levels of up to ± 300 ms, whereas the decoding performance with waveform features quickly drops from 0.85 to 0.55 AUC. The generalization across ErrP experiments also resulted in a significantly more stable performance with covariance-based features. Significance. The results confirmed our hypothesis that covariance-based features can be used to: 1) classify more reliably ERPs with higher intrinsic variability in more challenging real-life applications and 2) generalize across related experimental protocols.

Published in:
Journal of Neural Engineering, 17, 3, 036030
Jun 25 2020

Note: The file is under embargo until: 2021-06-25

 Record created 2020-10-06, last modified 2020-10-24

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