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Probabilistic Graphical Models for Brain Computer Interfaces
Authors: Jaime Delgado Saa
Published in:
Publication year: 2014
Abstract: Brain computer interfaces (BCI) are systems that aim to establish a new communication path for subjects who suffer from motor disabilities, allowing interaction with the environment through computer systems. BCIs make use of a diverse group of physiological phenomena recorded using electrodes placed on the scalp (Electroencephalography, EEG) or electrodes placed directly over the brain cortex (Electrocorticography, ECoG). One commonly used phenomenon is the activity observed in specific areas of the brain in response to external events, called Event Related Potentials (ERP). Among those, a type of response called P300 is the most used phenomenon. The P300 has found application in spellers that make use of the brain's response to the presentation of a sequence of visual stimuli. Another commonly used phenomenon is the synchronization or de synchronization of brain rhythms during the execution or imagination of a motor task, which can be used to differentiate between two or more subject intentions. In the most basic scenario, a BCI system calculates the differences in the power of the EEG rhythms during execution of different tasks. Based on those differences, the BCI decides which task has been executed (e.g., motor imagination of left or right hand). Current approaches are mainly based on machine learning techniques that learn the distribution of the power values of the brain signals for each of the possible classes.

In this thesis, making use of EEG and ECoG recording methods, we propose the use of probabilistic graphical models for brain computer interfaces. In the case of ERPs, in particular P300-based spellers, we propose the incorporation of language models at the level of words to increase significantly the performance of the spelling system. The proposed framework allows also the incorporation of different methods that take into account language models based on n-grams, all of this in an integrated structure whose parameters can be efficiently learned. In the context of execution or imagination of motor tasks, we propose techniques that take into account the temporal structure of the signals. Stochastic processes that model temporal dynamics of the brain signals in different frequency bands such as non-parametric Bayesian hidden Markov models are proposed in order to solve the problem of selection of the number of brain states during the execution of motor tasks as well as the selection of the number of components used to model the distribution of the brain signals. Following up on the same line of thought, hidden conditional random fields are proposed for classification of synchronous motor
tasks. The combination of hidden states with the discriminative power of conditional random fields is shown to increase the classification performance of imaginary motor movements. In the context of asynchronous BCIs, we propose a method based on latent
dynamic conditional random fields that is capable of modeling the internal temporal dynamics related to the generation of the brain signals, and external brain dynamics related to the execution of different mental tasks. Finally, in the context of asynchronous BCIs a model based on discriminative graphical models is presented for continuous classification of finger movements from ECoG data. We show that the incorporation of temporal dynamics of the brain signals in the classification stages increases significantly the classification accuracy of different mental states which can lead to a more effective interaction between the subject and the environment.
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