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Gaze-independent ERP-BCIs : Augmenting performance through location-congruent bimodal stimuli

Author: Thurlings, M.E. · Brouwer, A.M. · Erp, J.B.F. van · Werkhoven, P.J.
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
Source:Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, SEP, 8, 1-14
Identifier: 519642
doi: doi:10.3389/fnsys.2014.00143
Article number: 143
Keywords: Psychology · BCI · Bimodal · ERP · Gaze-independent · Location-congruency · Multisensory · Selective attention · Tactile · Human Performances · PCS - Perceptual and Cognitive Systems · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Gaze-independent event-related potential (ERP) based brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) yield relatively low BCI performance and traditionally employ unimodal stimuli. Bimodal ERP-BCIs may increase BCI performance due to multisensory integration or summation in the brain. An additional advantage of bimodal BCIs may be that the user can choose which modality or modalities to attend to. We studied bimodal, visual-tactile, gaze-independent BCIs and investigated whether or not ERP components’ tAUCs and subsequent classification accuracies are increased for (1) bimodal vs. unimodal stimuli; (2) location-congruent vs. location-incongruent bimodal stimuli; and (3) attending to both modalities vs. to either one modality. We observed an enhanced bimodal (compared to unimodal) P300 tAUC, which appeared to be positively affected by location-congruency (p = 0.056) and resulted in higher classification accuracies. Attending either to one or to both modalities of the bimodal location-congruent stimuli resulted in differences between ERP components, but not in classification performance. We conclude that location-congruent bimodal stimuli improve ERP-BCIs, and offer the user the possibility to switch the attended modality without losing performance.