Classification of overt and covert speech for near-infrared spectroscopy-based brain computer interface


People suffering from neuromuscular disorders such as locked-in syndrome (LIS) are left in a paralyzed state with preserved awareness and cognition. In this study, it was hypothesized that changes in local hemodynamic activity, due to the activation of Broca’s area during overt/covert speech, can be harnessed to create an intuitive Brain Computer Interface based on Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS). A 12-channel square template was used to cover inferior frontal gyrus and changes in hemoglobin concentration corresponding to six aloud (overtly) and six silently (covertly) spoken words were collected from eight healthy participants. An unsupervised feature extraction algorithm was implemented with an optimized support vector machine for classification. For all participants, when considering overt and covert classes regardless of words, classification accuracy of 92.88 ± 18.49% was achieved with oxy-hemoglobin (O2Hb) and 95.14 ± 5.39% with deoxy-hemoglobin (HHb) as a chromophore. For a six-active-class problem of overtly spoken words, 88.19 ± 7.12% accuracy was achieved for O2Hb and 78.82 ± 15.76% for HHb. Similarly, for a six-active-class classification of covertly spoken words, 79.17 ± 14.30% accuracy was achieved with O2Hb and 86.81 ± 9.90% with HHb as an absorber. These results indicate that a control paradigm based on covert speech can be reliably implemented into future Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs) based on NIRS.

Sensors (Switzerland)