Objective: Conventional, multi-channel scalp electroencephalography (EEG) allows the identification of the attended speaker in concurrent-listening ('cocktail party') scenarios. This implies that EEG might provide valuable information to complement hearing aids with some form of EEG and to install a level of neuro-feedback.
Approach: To investigate whether a listener's attentional focus can be detected from single-channel hearing-aid-compatible EEG configurations, we recorded EEG from three electrodes inside the ear canal ('in-Ear-EEG') and additionally from 64 electrodes on the scalp. In two different, concurrent listening tasks, participants (n = 7) were fitted with individualized in-Ear-EEG pieces and were either asked to attend to one of two dichotically-presented, concurrent tone streams or to one of two diotically-presented, concurrent audiobooks. A forward encoding model was trained to predict the EEG response at single EEG channels.
Main results: Each individual participants' attentional focus could be detected from single-channel EEG response recorded from short-distance configurations consisting only of a single in-Ear-EEG electrode and an adjacent scalp-EEG electrode. The differences in neural responses to attended and ignored stimuli were consistent in morphology (i.e. polarity and latency of components) across subjects.
Significance: In sum, our findings show that the EEG response from a single-channel, hearing-aid-compatible configuration provides valuable information to identify a listener's focus of attention.