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Causal Influence of Gamma Oscillations on Performance in Brain-Computer Interfaces

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons83948

Grosse-Wentrup,  M
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons83968

Hill,  J
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons84193

Schölkopf,  B
Department Empirical Inference, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Grosse-Wentrup, M., Hill, J., & Schölkopf, B. (2010). Causal Influence of Gamma Oscillations on Performance in Brain-Computer Interfaces. Poster presented at 4th International BCI Meeting, Asilomar, CA, USA.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-BFBE-4
Abstract
Background and Objective: While machine learning approaches have led to tremendous advances in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) in recent years (cf. [1]), there still exists a large variation in performance across subjects. Furthermore, a significant proportion of subjects appears incapable of achieving above chance-level classification accuracy [2], which to date includes all subjects in a completely locked-in state that have been trained in BCI control. Understanding the reasons for this variation in performance arguably constitutes one of the most fundamental open questions in research on BCIs. Methods Results Using a machine learning approach, we derive a trial-wise measure of how well EEG recordings can be classified as either left- or right-hand motor imagery. Specifically, we train a support vector machine (SVM) on log-bandpower features (7-40 Hz) derived from EEG channels after spatial filtering with a surface Laplacian, and then compute the trial-wise distance of the output of the SVM from the separating hyperplane using a cross-validation procedure. We then correlate this trial-wise performance measure, computed on EEG recordings of ten healthy subjects, with log-bandpower in the gamma frequency range (55-85 Hz), and demonstrate that it is positively correlated with frontal- and occipital gamma-power and negatively correlated with centro-parietal gamma-power. This correlation is shown to be highly significant on the group level as well as in six out of ten subjects on the single-subject level. We then utilize the framework for causal inference developed by Pearl, Spirtes and others [3,4] to present evidence that gamma-power is not only correlated with BCI performance but does indeed exert a causal influence on it. Discussion and Conclusions Our results indicate that successful execution of motor imagery, and hence reliable communication by means of a BCI based on motor imagery, requires a volitional shift of gamma-power from centro-parietal to frontal and occipital regions. As such, our results provide the first non-trivial explanation for the variation in BCI performance across and within subjects. As this topographical alteration in gamma-power is likely to correspond to a specific attentional shift, we propose to provide subjects with feedback on their topographical distribution of gamma-power in order to establish the attentional state required for successful execution of motor imagery.