Wireless EEG Headsets
May 8, 2014, Neurogaming Conference, San Francisco—Chris Berka from Advanced Brain Monitoring talked about the changing requirements for sensors and their integration into fully functional diagnostic and brain interfaces. The need for platform-independent hardware and software is growing as more detailed analyses and studies emerge.
Now, human subject studies need to go to multi-phase tests that use bio-markers from a known population as the base ground truth starting points. The challenge is that neural correlation is only an approximate relationship, so using existing data points helps as a starting point.
An example of this type of correlated relationship is the concept of the "uncanny valley". People are very capable of determining if an image is a real person or not. When an avatar or android that is close to human is shown, the respondents get a sense of disgust. An example is the movie " Polar Express". The problem for researchers is that no single area of the brain is involved in this response.
Getting more detailed analyses and determining correlation to emotions and levels of attention is becoming more refined. The company has been working with military veterans through DARPA contracts for over 15 years, so their devices are registered and approved as medical devices. Now, the headset has integrated bio-sensors mounted on plastic bands shaped like a bicycle helmet without the outer shell.
The headset is used in simulation and training programs. The sensors are coupled to a computer through a BlueTooth link to give the user greater freedom of movement and to reduce the size and weight of the headset, as most data processing is off-board. The headset has a module about the size of a cigarette package for local signal processing and data conversion.
One recent study involves sleep deprivation and the effects of sleep on performance. Within the military services, the Marines have a larger population of people who can function on less sleep than the average person. Most people need about 7 hours of sleep to retain functionality, but the Marines can operate on 4 hours of sleep plus some naps during waking periods.
For all test subject, getting less than the minimum necessary hours of sleep causes reductions in memory retention functions, probably good if you are a Marine on a mission. The research showed that changing the diet and adding omega-3 oils helps to compensate, in the short term, for sleep deprivation and the small naps also help.
The various testing has shown that the Marines have biological changes that lead to improved integration and data analysis. Similar changes appear in gaming, where sensors have detected increased empathy for characters in the game. The empathy depends upon a good narrative structure and story. The storyteller has to set up the structures to get the audience involved, but once involved, the audience shows measurable brain activity that correlates with empathy.
Their algorithms can detect engagement, boredom, and other emotions by using real-time analysis. These analyses can be used to predict responses that are based on a large database. The signal processing, data analysis, and inference of emotional states is greatly improved from the early studies in the '60's and '70's. Now, ongoing work is involved in increasing the knowledge base and refining the measurements.