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Decoding Semantic Categories from EEG Activity in Silent Speech Imagination Tasks

Maurice Rekrut; Mansi Sharma; Matthias Nadig; Jan Alexandersson; Antonio Krüger
In: The 8th International Winter Conference on Brain-Computer Interface. IEEE International Winter Conference on Brain-Computer Interface (BCI-2021), February 22-24, Gangwon, Korea, Republic of, IEEE, 2021.


Silent Speech Brain-Computer Interfaces try to decode imagined or silently spoken speech from brain activity. This technology holds big potential in various application domains, e.g. restoring communication abilities for handicapped people, or in settings where overtly spoken speech is not an option due to environmental conditions, e.g. noisy industrial or aerospace settings. However, one major drawback of this technology still is the limited number of words which can be distinguished at a time. This work therefore introduces the concept of Semantic Silent Speech BCIs, which adds a layer for semantic category classification prior to the actual word classification to multiply the number of classifiable words in Silent Speech BCIs many times over. We evaluated the possibilities of classifying 5 different semantic categories of words during a word imagination task by comparing various feature extraction and classification methods. Our results show remarkable classification accuracies of up to 95% for the single best subject with a Common Spatial Pattern (CSP) feature extraction and a Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifier and a best average classification accuracy of 60.44% for a combination of CSP and a Random Forrest (RF) classifier. Even a cross-subject analysis over the data of all subjects lead to results above the chance level of 20%, with a best performance of 43.54% for a self assembled feature vector and a RF classifier. Those results clearly indicate that the classification of the semantic category of an imagined word from EEG activity is possible and therefor lay the foundation for Semantic Silent Speech BCIs in the future.