Fast EEG-Based Decoding Of The Directional Focus Of Auditory Attention Using Common Spatial Patterns


Objective: Noise reduction algorithms in current hearing devices lack information about the sound source a user attends to when multiple sources are present. To resolve this issue, they can be complemented with auditory attention decoding (AAD) algorithms, which decode the attention using electroencephalography (EEG) sensors. State-of-the-art AAD algorithms employ a stimulus reconstruction approach, in which the envelope of the attended source is reconstructed from the EEG and correlated with the envelopes of the individual sources. This approach, however, performs poorly on short signal segments, while longer segments yield impractically long detection delays when the user switches attention. Methods: We propose decoding the directional focus of attention using filterbank common spatial pattern filters (FB-CSP) as an alternative AAD paradigm, whichdoes not require access to the clean source envelopes. Results: The proposed FB-CSP approach outperforms both the stimulus reconstruction approach on short signal segments, as well as a convolutional neural network approach on the same task. We achieve a high accuracy (80% for 1 s windows and 70% for quasi-instantaneous decisions), which is sufficient to reach minimal expected switch durations below 4 s. We also demonstrate that the decoder can adapt to unlabeled data from anunseen subject and works with only a subset of EEG channels located around the ear to emulate a wearable EEG setup. Conclusion: The proposed FB-CSP method provides fast and accurate decoding of the directional focus of auditory attention. Significance: The high accuracy on very short data segments is a major step forward towards practical neuro-steered hearing devices."

IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 68, no. 5, pp. 1557-1568, 2021

This article was a featured article in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering in May 2021 and got featured in several Flemish and international media.

Simon Geirnaert
Simon Geirnaert
Postdoctoral researcher

My research interests include signal processing algorithm design for multi-channel biomedical sensor arrays (e.g., electroencephalography) with applications in attention decoding for brain-computer interfaces.