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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 215-224

An efficient asynchronous high-frequency steady-state visual evoked potential-based brain-computer interface speller: The problem of individual differences

1 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran
2 Department of Electrical Engineering, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Amin Mahnam
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Isfahan, Isfahan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmss.JMSS_19_18

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Background: Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) based on steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) provide high rates of accuracy and information transfer rate, but need user's attention to flickering visual stimuli. This quickly leads to eye-fatigue when the flickering frequency is in the low-frequency range. High-frequency flickering stimuli (>30 Hz) have been proposed with significantly lower eye-fatigue. However, SSVEP responses in this frequency range are remarkably weaker, leading to doubts about usability of high-frequency stimuli to develop efficient BCI systems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if a practical SSVEP Speller can be developed with Repetitive Visual Stimuli in the high-frequency range. Methods: An asynchronous high-frequency (35–40 Hz) speller for typing in Persian language was developed using five flickering visual stimuli. Least absolute shrinkage and selection operator algorithm with two user-calibrated thresholds was used to detect the user's selections. A total of 14 volunteers evaluated the system in an ordinary office environment to type 9 sentences consist of 81 characters with a multistage virtual keyboard. Results: Despite very high performance of 6.9 chars/min overall typing speed, average accuracy of 98.3%, and information transfer rate of 64.9 bpm for eight of the participants, the other six participants had serious difficulty in spelling with the system and could not complete the typing experiment. Conclusions: The results of this study in accordance with some previous studies suggest that high rate of illiteracy in high-frequency SSVEP-based BCI systems may be a major burden for their practical application.

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