An Online Brain-Computer Interface Based on SSVEPs Measured from Non-Hair-Bearing Areas

Yu Te Wang, Masaki Nakanishi, Yijun Wang, Chun-Shu Wei, Chung Kuan Cheng, Tzyy Ping Jung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Steady state visual evoked potential (SSVEP)-based brain-computer interface (BCI) has gained a lot of attention due to its robustness and high information transfer rate (ITR). However, transitioning well-controlled laboratory-oriented BCI demonstrations to real-world applications poses severe challenges for this exciting field. For instance, conducting BCI experiments usually requires skilled technicians to abrade the area of skin underneath each electrode and apply an electrolytic gel or paste to acquire high-quality SSVEPs from hair-covered areas. Our previous proof-of-concept study has proposed an alternative approach that employed electroencephalographic signals collected from easily accessible non-hair-bearing areas including neck, behind the ears, and face to realize an SSVEP-based BCI. The study results showed that, with proper electrode placements and advanced signal-processing algorithms, the SSVEPs measured from non-hair-bearing areas in off-line SSVEP experiments could achieve comparable SNR to that obtained from the hair-bearing occipital areas. This study extended the previous work to systematically investigate the costs and benefits of non-hair SSVEPs. Furthermore, this study developed and evaluated an online BCI system based solely on non-hair EEG signals. A 12-Target identification task was employed to quantitatively assess the performance of the online SSVEP-based BCI system. All subjects successfully completed the tasks using non-hair SSVEPs with 84.08 ± 15.60% averaged accuracy and 30.21 ± 10.61 bits/min averaged ITR. The empirical results of this study demonstrated the practicality of implementing an SSVEP-based BCI based on signals from non-hair-bearing areas, significantly improving the feasibility and practicality of real-world BCIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA8
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Brain-computer interfaces (BCI)
  • electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • non-hair-bearing electrodes
  • steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP)

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