Somatosensory evoked potentials elicited by stimulating two fingers from one hand — Usable for BCI?

Institute for Knowledge Discovery, BCI Lab, Graz University of Technology, Austria, 8010 Graz, Krenngasse 37.
Conference proceedings: ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference 08/2011; 2011:6373-6. DOI: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6091573
Source: PubMed


Steady-state somatosensory evoked potentials (SSSEPs) have been elicited using vibro-tactile stimulation on two fingers of the right hand. Fourteen healthy subjects participated in this study. A screening session, stimulating each participant's thumb, was conducted to determine individual optimal resonance-like frequencies. After this screening session, two stimulation frequencies per subject were selected. Stimulation was then applied simultaneously on the participant's thumbs and middle finger. It was investigated whether it is possible to classify SSSEP changes based on an attention modulation task to determine possible BCI applications. A cue indicated the participants to shift their attention to either the thumb or the middle finger. Offline classification with a lock-in analyzer system (LAS) and a linear discriminant analysis (LDA) classifier was performed. One bipolar channel and no further optimization methods were used. All participants except one reached classification results above chance level classifying a reference period without focused attention against focused attention either to the thumb or the middle finger. Only two subjects reached accuracies above chance, classifying focused attention to the thumb vs. attention to the middle finger.

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    ABSTRACT: A tactile stimulation device for EEG measurements in clinical environments is proposed. The main purpose of the tactile stimulation device is to provide tactile stimulation to different parts of the body. To stimulate all four major types of mechanoreceptors, different stimulation patterns with frequencies in the range of 5-250 Hz have to be generated. The device provides two independent channels, delivers enough power to drive different types of electromagnetic transducers, is small and portable, and no expensive components are required to construct this device. The generated stimulation patterns are very stable, and deterministic control of the device is possible. To meet electrical safety requirements, the device was designed to be fully galvanically isolated. Leakage currents of the entire EEG measurement system including the tactile stimulation device were measured by the European Testing and Certifying Body for Medical Products Graz (Notified Body 0636). All measured currents were far below the maximum allowable currents defined in the safety standard EN 60601-1:2006 for medical electrical equipment. The successful operation of the tactile stimulation device was tested during an EEG experiment. The left and right wrist of one healthy subject were randomly stimulated with seven different frequencies. Steady-state somatosensory evoked potential (SSSEPs) could successfully be evoked and significant tuning curves at electrode positions contralateral to the stimulated wrist could be found. The device is ready to be used in clinical environment in a variety of applications to investigate the somatosensory system, in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), or to provide tactile feedback.
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the test-retest reliability of sustained spatial attention modulation of steady-state somatosensory evoked potentials (SSSEPs) and the N140 component of the somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs). Participants attended to one or both hands to perform a target detection task while concurrent mechanical vibrations were presented for 4500ms to both hands in two recording sessions. Results revealed that the amplitude and the attentional modulation of SSSEPs had high test-retest reliability, while the test-retest reliability for the N140 component was low. SSSEPs for stimuli with focused and divided attention had about the same amplitude. For the N140 component only the stimuli with focused attention were significantly enhanced. We found greater habituation effects for the N140 compared to SSSEP amplitudes but attentional modulation was unaffected in both signals. Given the great test-retest reliability of SSSEP amplitude modulation with attention, SSSEPs serve as an excellent tool for studying sustained spatial attention in somatosensation.
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