Background: Corporeal machine interfaces (CMIs) are one of a few available options for restoring communication and environmental control to those with severe motor impairments. Cognitive processes detectable solely with functional imaging technologies such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) can potentially provide interfaces requiring less user training than conventional electroencephalography-based CMIs. We hypothesized that visually-cued emotional induction tasks can elicit forehead hemodynamic activity that can be harnessed for a CMI.
Methods: Data were collected from ten able-bodied participants as they performed trials of positively and negatively-emotional induction tasks. A genetic algorithm was employed to select the optimal signal features, classifier, task valence (positive or negative emotional value of the stimulus), recording site, and signal analysis interval length for each participant. We compared the performance of Linear Discriminant Analysis and Support Vector Machine classifiers. The latency of the NIRS hemodynamic response was estimated as the time required for classification accuracy to stabilize.
Results: Baseline and activation sequences were classified offline with accuracies upwards of 75.0%. Feature selection identified common time-domain discriminatory features across participants. Classification performance varied with the length of the input signal, and optimal signal length was found to be feature-dependent. Statistically significant increases in classification accuracy from baseline rates were observed as early as 2.5 s from initial stimulus presentation.
Conclusion: NIRS signals during affective states were shown to be distinguishable from baseline states with classification accuracies significantly above chance levels. Further research with NIRS for corporeal machine interfaces is warranted.