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BCI animation for children (Pitt et al., 2023)

posted on 2023-09-11, 21:35 authored by Kevin M. Pitt, Zachary J. Cole, Joshua Zosky

Purpose: There is an increasing focus on using motion in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. In considering brain–computer interface access to AAC (BCI-AAC), motion may provide a simpler or more intuitive avenue for BCI-AAC control. Different motion techniques may be utilized in supporting competency with AAC devices including simple (e.g., zoom) and complex (behaviorally relevant animation) methods. However, how different pictorial symbol animation techniques impact BCI-AAC is unclear.

Method: Sixteen healthy children completed two experimental conditions. These conditions included highlighting of pictorial symbols via both functional (complex) and zoom (simple) animation to evaluate the effects of motion techniques on P300-based BCI-AAC signals and offline (predicted) BCI-AAC performance.

Results: Functional (complex) animation significantly increased attentional-related P200/P300 event-related potential (ERP) amplitudes in the parieto-occipital area. Zoom (simple) animation significantly decreased N400 latency. N400 ERP amplitude was significantly greater, and occurred significantly earlier, on the right versus left side for the functional animation condition within the parieto-occipital bin. N200 ERP latency was significantly reduced over the left hemisphere for the zoom condition in the central bin. As hypothesized, elicitation of all targeted ERP components supported offline (predicted) BCI-AAC performance being similar between conditions.

Conclusion: Study findings provide continued support for the use of animation in BCI-AAC systems for children and highlight differences in neural and attentional processing between complex and simple animation techniques.

Supplemental Material S1. Video clip of the zoom task condition.

Supplemental Material S2. Video clip of the functional task condition.

Pitt, K. M., Cole, Z. J, & Zosky, J. (2023). Promoting simple and engaging brain–computer interface designs for children by evaluating contrasting motion techniques. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


The project was supported by the Nebraska Tobacco Settlement Biomedical Research Development Fund, awarded to Kevin Pitt