Online asynchronous detection of error-related potentials in participants with a spinal cord injury using a generic classifier

Catarina Lopes-Dias, Andreea Ioana Sburlea, Katharina Breitegger, Daniela Wyss, Harald Drescher, Renate Wildburger, Gernot R. Müller-Putz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For brain-computer interface (BCI) users, the awareness of an error is associated with a cortical signature known as an error-related potential (ErrP). The incorporation of ErrP detection into BCIs can improve their performance. OBJECTIVE: This work has three main aims. First, we investigate whether an ErrP classifier is transferable from able-bodied participants to participants with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Second, we test this generic ErrP classifier with SCI and control participants, in an online experiment without offline calibration. Third, we investigate the morphology of ErrPs in both groups of participants. APPROACH: We used previously recorded electroencephalographic data from able-bodied participants to train an ErrP classifier. We tested the classifier asynchronously, in an online experiment with 16 new participants: 8 participants with SCI and 8 able-bodied control participants. The experiment had no offline calibration and participants received feedback regarding the ErrP detections from the start. To increase the fluidity of the experiment, feedback regarding false positive ErrP detections was not presented to the participants, but these detections were taken into account in the evaluation of the classifier. The generic classifier was not trained with the user's brain signals. However, its performance was optimized during the online experiment by the use of personalized decision thresholds. The classifier's performance was evaluated using trial-based metrics, which considered the asynchronous detection of ErrPs during the entire trial's duration. MAIN RESULTS: Participants with SCI presented a non-homogenous ErrP morphology, and four of them did not present clear ErrP signals. The generic classifier performed better than chance in participants with clear ErrP signals, independently of the SCI (11 out of 16 participants). Three out of the five participants that obtained chance level results with the generic classifier would have not benefitted from the use of a personalized classifier. SIGNIFICANCE: This work shows the feasibility of transferring an ErrP classifier from able-bodied participants to participants with SCI, for asynchronous detection of ErrPs in an online experiment without offline calibration, which provided immediate feedback to the users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number046022
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number4
Early online date31 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • asynchronous classification
  • brain-computer interface
  • end-users
  • error-related potential
  • generic classifier
  • online experiment
  • spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biomedical Engineering


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