Fast Optical Signals for Real-Time Retinotopy and Brain Computer Interface

David Perpetuini, Mehmet Günal, Nicole Chiou, Sanmi Koyejo, Kyle Mathewson, Kathy A. Low, Monica Fabiani, Gabriele Gratton, Antonio Maria Chiarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A brain–computer interface (BCI) allows users to control external devices through brain activity. Portable neuroimaging techniques, such as near-infrared (NIR) imaging, are suitable for this goal. NIR imaging has been used to measure rapid changes in brain optical properties associated with neuronal activation, namely fast optical signals (FOS) with good spatiotemporal resolution. However, FOS have a low signal-to-noise ratio, limiting their BCI application. Here FOS were acquired with a frequency-domain optical system from the visual cortex during visual stimulation consisting of a rotating checkerboard wedge, flickering at 5 Hz. We used measures of photon count (Direct Current, DC light intensity) and time of flight (phase) at two NIR wavelengths (690 nm and 830 nm) combined with a machine learning approach for fast estimation of visual-field quadrant stimulation. The input features of a cross-validated support vector machine classifier were computed as the average modulus of the wavelet coherence between each channel and the average response among all channels in 512 ms time windows. An above chance performance was obtained when differentiating visual stimulation quadrants (left vs. right or top vs. bottom) with the best classification accuracy of ~63% (information transfer rate of ~6 bits/min) when classifying the superior and inferior stimulation quadrants using DC at 830 nm. The method is the first attempt to provide generalizable retinotopy classification relying on FOS, paving the way for the use of FOS in real-time BCI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number553
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • brain–computer interface (BCI)
  • event-related optical signals (EROS)
  • fast optical signals (FOS)
  • machine learning (ML)
  • retinotopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering


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