Evaluation of induced and evoked changes in EEG during selective attention to verbal stimuli

P. Horki, G. Bauernfeind, W. Schippinger, G. Pichler, G. R. Müller-Putz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background Two challenges need to be addressed before bringing non-motor mental tasks for brain–computer interface (BCI) control to persons in a minimally conscious state (MCS), who can be behaviorally unresponsive even when proven to be consciously aware: first, keeping the cognitive demands as low as possible so that they could be fulfilled by persons with MCS. Second, increasing the control of experimental protocol (i.e. type and timing of the task performance). New method The goal of this study is twofold: first goal is to develop an experimental paradigm that can facilitate the performance of brain-teasers (e.g. mental subtraction and word generation) on the one hand, and can increase the control of experimental protocol on the other hand. The second goal of this study is to exploit the similar findings for mentally attending to someone else's verbal performance of brain-teaser tasks and self-performing the same tasks to setup an online BCI, and to compare it in healthy participants to the current “state-of-the-art” motor imagery (MI, sports). Results The response accuracies for the best performing healthy participants indicate that selective attention to verbal performance of mental subtraction (SUB) is a viable alternative to the MI. Time-frequency analysis of the SUB task in one participant with MCS did not reveal any significant (p < 0.05) EEG changes, whereas imagined performance of one sport of participants’ choice (SPORT) revealed task-related EEG changes over neurophysiological plausible cortical areas. Comparison with existing methods We found that mentally attending to someone else's verbal performance of brain-teaser tasks leads to similar results as in self-performing the same tasks. Conclusions In this work we demonstrated that a single auditory selective attention task (i.e. mentally attending to someone else's verbal performance of mental subtraction) can modulate both induced and evoked changes in EEG, and be used for yes/no communication in an auditory scanning paradigm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neuroscience methods
Volume270
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016

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Keywords

  • Assistive technology
  • Brain–computer interfaces (BCI)
  • Disorders of consciousness (DOC)
  • EEG
  • Mental imagery
  • Selective attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

Cite this

Evaluation of induced and evoked changes in EEG during selective attention to verbal stimuli. / Horki, P.; Bauernfeind, G.; Schippinger, W.; Pichler, G.; Müller-Putz, G. R.

In: Journal of neuroscience methods, Vol. 270, 01.09.2016, p. 165-176.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Horki, P. ; Bauernfeind, G. ; Schippinger, W. ; Pichler, G. ; Müller-Putz, G. R. / Evaluation of induced and evoked changes in EEG during selective attention to verbal stimuli. In: Journal of neuroscience methods. 2016 ; Vol. 270. pp. 165-176.
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AB - Background Two challenges need to be addressed before bringing non-motor mental tasks for brain–computer interface (BCI) control to persons in a minimally conscious state (MCS), who can be behaviorally unresponsive even when proven to be consciously aware: first, keeping the cognitive demands as low as possible so that they could be fulfilled by persons with MCS. Second, increasing the control of experimental protocol (i.e. type and timing of the task performance). New method The goal of this study is twofold: first goal is to develop an experimental paradigm that can facilitate the performance of brain-teasers (e.g. mental subtraction and word generation) on the one hand, and can increase the control of experimental protocol on the other hand. The second goal of this study is to exploit the similar findings for mentally attending to someone else's verbal performance of brain-teaser tasks and self-performing the same tasks to setup an online BCI, and to compare it in healthy participants to the current “state-of-the-art” motor imagery (MI, sports). Results The response accuracies for the best performing healthy participants indicate that selective attention to verbal performance of mental subtraction (SUB) is a viable alternative to the MI. Time-frequency analysis of the SUB task in one participant with MCS did not reveal any significant (p < 0.05) EEG changes, whereas imagined performance of one sport of participants’ choice (SPORT) revealed task-related EEG changes over neurophysiological plausible cortical areas. Comparison with existing methods We found that mentally attending to someone else's verbal performance of brain-teaser tasks leads to similar results as in self-performing the same tasks. Conclusions In this work we demonstrated that a single auditory selective attention task (i.e. mentally attending to someone else's verbal performance of mental subtraction) can modulate both induced and evoked changes in EEG, and be used for yes/no communication in an auditory scanning paradigm.

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