Effects of Stimulus Type and of Error-Correcting Code Design on BCI Speller Performance

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 21 (NIPS 2008)

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Jeremy Hill, Jason Farquhar, Suzanna Martens, Felix Biessmann, Bernhard Schölkopf


From an information-theoretic perspective, a noisy transmission system such as a visual Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) speller could benefit from the use of error-correcting codes. However, optimizing the code solely according to the maximal minimum-Hamming-distance criterion tends to lead to an overall increase in target frequency of target stimuli, and hence a significantly reduced average target-to-target interval (TTI), leading to difficulties in classifying the individual event-related potentials (ERPs) due to overlap and refractory effects. Clearly any change to the stimulus setup must also respect the possible psychophysiological consequences. Here we report new EEG data from experiments in which we explore stimulus types and codebooks in a within-subject design, finding an interaction between the two factors. Our data demonstrate that the traditional, row-column code has particular spatial properties that lead to better performance than one would expect from its TTIs and Hamming-distances alone, but nonetheless error-correcting codes can improve performance provided the right stimulus type is used.