Adaptive LDA Classifier Enhances Real-Time Control of an EEG Brain-Computer Interface for Decoding Imagined Syllables

Brain Sci. 2024 Feb 21;14(3):196. doi: 10.3390/brainsci14030196.


Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) aim to establish a pathway between the brain and an external device without the involvement of the motor system, relying exclusively on neural signals. Such systems have the potential to provide a means of communication for patients who have lost the ability to speak due to a neurological disorder. Traditional methodologies for decoding imagined speech directly from brain signals often deploy static classifiers, that is, decoders that are computed once at the beginning of the experiment and remain unchanged throughout the BCI use. However, this approach might be inadequate to effectively handle the non-stationary nature of electroencephalography (EEG) signals and the learning that accompanies BCI use, as parameters are expected to change, and all the more in a real-time setting. To address this limitation, we developed an adaptive classifier that updates its parameters based on the incoming data in real time. We first identified optimal parameters (the update coefficient, UC) to be used in an adaptive Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) classifier, using a previously recorded EEG dataset, acquired while healthy participants controlled a binary BCI based on imagined syllable decoding. We subsequently tested the effectiveness of this optimization in a real-time BCI control setting. Twenty healthy participants performed two BCI control sessions based on the imagery of two syllables, using a static LDA and an adaptive LDA classifier, in randomized order. As hypothesized, the adaptive classifier led to better performances than the static one in this real-time BCI control task. Furthermore, the optimal parameters for the adaptive classifier were closely aligned in both datasets, acquired using the same syllable imagery task. These findings highlight the effectiveness and reliability of adaptive LDA classifiers for real-time imagined speech decoding. Such an improvement can shorten the training time and favor the development of multi-class BCIs, representing a clear interest for non-invasive systems notably characterized by low decoding accuracies.

Keywords: adaptive LDA classifier; brain–computer interface; electroencephalography; speech imagery; syllable decoding.