Brain-computer interfacing under distraction: an evaluation study

Stephanie Brandl, Laura Frølich, Johannes Höhne, Klaus-Robert Müller, Wojciech Samek

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Objective. While motor-imagery based brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have been studied over many years by now, most of these studies have taken place in controlled lab settings. Bringing BCI technology into everyday life is still one of the main challenges in this field of research. Approach. This paper systematically investigates BCI performance under 6 types of distractions that mimic out-of-lab environments. Main results. We report results of 16 participants and show that the performance of the standard common spatial patterns (CSP) + regularized linear discriminant analysis classification pipeline drops significantly in this 'simulated' out-of-lab setting. We then investigate three methods for improving the performance: (1) artifact removal, (2) ensemble classification, and (3) a 2-step classification approach. While artifact removal does not enhance the BCI performance significantly, both ensemble classification and the 2-step classification combined with CSP significantly improve the performance compared to the standard procedure. Significance. Systematically analyzing out-of-lab scenarios is crucial when bringing BCI into everyday life. Algorithms must be adapted to overcome nonstationary environments in order to tackle real-world challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number056012
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number5
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • brain-computer interfacing
  • common spatial patterns
  • nonstationarity
  • robustness
  • Discriminant analysis
  • Human computer interaction
  • Interfaces (computer)
  • Laboratories
  • Robustness (control systems)
  • Brain computer interfaces (BCIs)
  • Brain-computer interfacing
  • Classification approach
  • Common spatial patterns
  • Ensemble classification
  • Non-stationarities
  • Non-stationary environment
  • Regularized linear discriminant analysis
  • Brain computer interface
  • Mathematical biology and statistical methods
  • Nervous system - Physiology and biochemistry
  • brain-computer interface
  • common spatial pattern
  • Electrodiagnostics and other electrical measurement techniques
  • Probability theory, stochastic processes, and statistics
  • Bioelectric signals
  • Signal processing and detection
  • Other topics in statistics
  • Biology and medical computing
  • Digital signal processing
  • brain-computer interfaces
  • electroencephalography
  • medical signal processing
  • signal classification
  • statistical analysis
  • motor-imagery based brain-computer interfaces
  • BCI technology
  • CSP
  • regularized linear discriminant analysis classification pipeline
  • artifact removal
  • ensemble classification
  • 2-step classification approach
  • EEG signals

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