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Event-related potentials (ERPs) in high-end consumer-grade neurofeedback?

Event Related Potentials (ERPs) are used to evaluate the brain’s processing speed. Like with a CPU, a faster clock speed means more power.


ERPs constitute extremely tiny voltage fluctuations in the brain that occur in time in response to a physical or mental event. "They are voltages produced in brain regions in response to particular stimuli. Additionally, they are thought to represent activity in sophisticated neural networks that detect new stimuli and allow people to differentiate between important and irrelevant inputs. Furthermore, ERPs are unaffected by cultural or educational effects, and they may provide a non-invasive method of investigating cognitive processes [...] The subject is shown a series of repeated (standard) stimuli that are replaced with a new (deviant) stimulus at random and with a low probability. The goal of the subject is typically to identify these abnormal" (Jadhav et al 2022: 74-75) targets.


In a nutshell, this summarizes the procedure, as used by Sens.ai's headband as one of the options utilized between neuroback sessions.


As ERPs are distinguished by their amplitude (positive or negative) and latitude, as how quickly they occur in milliseconds (ms) after the stimulus event, to identify these reactions, you have to average EEG responses after repeated stimulus presentations. "Some of the most commonly described ERP components in relation to cognitive processes like intelligence are the P1–N1 complex, the P3 or P300 that can be divided into P3a and P3b components" (Event-Related Potential - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics).


To allow for this kind of data sampling, the Sens.ai headband uses a tracking device ("GeniusPulse Controller") that is connected to the headband during the measurement sessions.

As Donoghue and Voytek (2022), recently, have explored, associations in the research literature between ERPs and cognitive functions are rich and multi-faceted.





ERP-research (Source: Donoghue, T. & Voytek, B. 2022)


While the Sens.ai app does not report raw ERP results, it still provides the user with insights into the progress of key indicators over time.

I have been tracking ERP results, as reported by the app since I started using the neurofeedback headband in late July 2023.

For illustrative purposes, below you find graphs showing how the overall processing time and post-error correction time both decreased over nine assessment sessions between July 2023 and February 2024.

On the other hand, accuracy (percentage of stimuli correctly identified) has improved.

I have left out specific numbers as they are not crucial. If you are interested in the details, feel free to contact me.




ERP-trial results (July 2023 to February 2024)


Why bother?

Because it shows: Commitment to sound science pays and the results indicate that Sens.ai has invested in valid tools and procedures.

ERPs may not be an easy selling point. Still, their usage by Sens.ai indicates that their program is deeply rooted in evidence-based neuroscience and the results show that their 5-in-1-approach does work!

References

Donoghue, T. & Voytek, B. (2022). Automated meta-analysis of the event-related potential (ERP) literature. Sci Rep 12, 1867. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-05939-9.


Jadhav, C., Kamble, P., Mundewadi, S., Jaiswal, N., Mali, S., Ranga, S., Suvvari, T.K. & Rukadikar, A. (2022). Clinical applications of EEG as an excellent tool for event-related potentials in psychiatric and neurotic disorders. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 14 (2): 73-83.

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