Masked and unmasked error-related potentials during continuous control and feedback

Catarina Lopes-Dias, Andreea Ioana Sburlea, Gernot Müller-Putz

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The detection of error-related potentials (ErrPs) in tasks with discrete feedback is well established in the brain-computer interface (BCI) field. However, the decoding of ErrPs in tasks with continuous feedback is still in its early stages.

We developed a task in which subjects have continuous control of a cursor's position by means of a joystick. The cursor's position was shown to the participants in two different modalities of continuous feedback: normal and jittered. The jittered feedback was created to mimic the instability that could exist if participants controlled the trajectory directly with brain signals.

This paper studies the electroencephalographic (EEG)-measurable signatures caused by a loss of control over the cursor's trajectory, causing a target miss.

In both feedback modalities, time-locked potentials revealed the typical frontal-central components of error-related potentials. Errors occurring during the jittered feedback (masked errors) were delayed in comparison to errors occurring during normal feedback (unmasked errors). Masked errors displayed lower peak amplitudes than unmasked errors. Time-locked classification analysis allowed a good distinction between correct and error classes (average Cohen-[Formula: see text], average TPR  =  81.8% and average TNR  =  96.4%). Time-locked classification analysis between masked error and unmasked error classes revealed results at chance level (average Cohen-[Formula: see text], average TPR  =  60.9% and average TNR  =  58.3%). Afterwards, we performed asynchronous detection of ErrPs, combining both masked and unmasked trials. The asynchronous detection of ErrPs in a simulated online scenario resulted in an average TNR of 84.0% and in an average TPR of 64.9%.

The time-locked classification results suggest that the masked and unmasked errors were indistinguishable in terms of classification. The asynchronous classification results suggest that the feedback modality did not hinder the asynchronous detection of ErrPs
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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