Deep Learning based Inter-subject Continuous Decoding of Motor Imagery for Practical Brain-Computer Interfaces

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Inter-subject transfer learning is a long-standing problem in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) and has not yet been fully realized due to high inter-subject variability in the brain signals related to motor imagery (MI). The recent success of deep learning-based algorithms in classifying different brain signals warrants further exploration to determine whether it is feasible for the inter-subject continuous decoding of MI signals to provide contingent neurofeedback which is important for neurorehabilitative BCI designs. In this paper, we have shown how a convolutional neural network (CNN) based deep learning framework can be used for inter-subject continuous decoding of MI-related electroencephalographic (EEG) signals using the novel concept of Mega Blocks for adapting the network against inter-subject variabilities. These Mega Blocks have the capacity to repeat a specific architectural block several times such as one or more convolutional layers in a single Mega Block. The parameters of such Mega Blocks can be optimized using Bayesian hyperparameter optimization. The results, obtained on the publicly available BCI competition IV-2b dataset, yields an average inter-subject continuous decoding accuracy of 71.49% (κ = 0.42) and 70.84% (κ = 0.42) for two different training methods such as adaptive moment estimation (Adam) and stochastic gradient descent (SGDM), respectively, in 7 out of 9 subjects. Our results show for the first time that it is feasible to use CNN based architectures for inter-subject continuous decoding with a sufficient level of accuracy for developing calibration-free MI-BCIs for practical purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number918
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2020


  • Deep Learning
  • CNN
  • EEG data
  • BCI applications
  • real-time

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