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Tsinghua Science and Technology  2021, Vol. 26 Issue (4): 440-451    doi: 10.26599/TST.2019.9010079
Exploiting Sparse Representation in the P300 Speller Paradigm
Hongma Liu*(),Yali Li(),Shengjin Wang()
Department of Electronic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.
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A Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) aims to produce a new way for people to communicate with computers. Brain signal classification is a challenging issue owing to the high-dimensional data and low Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). In this paper, a novel method is proposed to cope with this problem through sparse representation for the P300 speller paradigm. This work is distinguished using two key contributions. First, we investigate sparse coding and its feasibility for brain signal classification. Training signals are used to learn the dictionaries and test signals are classified according to their sparse representation and reconstruction errors. Second, sample selection and a channel-aware dictionary are proposed to reduce the effect of noise, which can improve performance and enhance the computing efficiency simultaneously. A novel classification method from the sample set perspective is proposed to exploit channel correlations. Specifically, the brain signal of each channel is classified jointly using its spatially neighboring channels and a novel weighted regulation strategy is proposed to overcome outliers in the group. Experimental results have demonstrated that our methods are highly effective. We achieve a state-of-the-art recognition rate of 72.5%, 88.5%, and 98.5% at 5, 10, and 15 epochs, respectively, on BCI Competition III Dataset II.

Key wordssparse representation      sample selection      channel-aware dictionary      P300 speller     
Received: 01 December 2019      Published: 12 January 2021
Fund:  National High Technology Research and Development (863) Program of China(2012AA011004);National Science and Technology Support Program(2013BAK02B04)
Corresponding Authors: Hongma Liu     E-mail:;;
About author: Hongma Liu received the BEng degree from Southeast University, Nanjing, China in 2012. He is currently pursuing the PhD degree at the Department of Electronic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. His current research interests include pattern recognition, computer vision, BCIs, and object recognition.|Yali Li received the BEng degree with Excellent Graduates Award from Nanjing University, China in 2007 and the PhD degree from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 2013. Currently she is a research assistant in the Department of Electronic Engineering, Tsinghua University. Her research interests include image processing, pattern recognition, computer vision, and video analysis.|Shengjin Wang received the BEng degree from Tsinghua University, China in 1985 and the PhD degree from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan in 1997. From May 1997 to August 2003, he was a member of the research staff in the Internet System Research Laboratories, NEC Corporation, Japan. Since September 2003, he has been a professor with the Department of Electronic Engineering, Tsinghua University, where he is currently also a director of the Research Institute of Image and Graphics. He has published more than 50 papers on image processing. He is the holder of ten patents. His current research interests include image processing, computer vision, video surveillance, and pattern recognition.
Cite this article:

Hongma Liu,Yali Li,Shengjin Wang. Exploiting Sparse Representation in the P300 Speller Paradigm. Tsinghua Science and Technology, 2021, 26(4): 440-451.

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Fig. 1 Typical electrode layout of a 64-channel EEG recorder.
Fig. 2 Averaged P300 responses over Channel 11 (Cz). P300 is a positive deflection in EEG approximately 300 ms after the stimulus.
Fig. 3 Character matrix used in the P300 speller paradigm with the third row highlighted.
Training dataset sizeTest dataset size
Subject AP30025503000
No P30012 75015 000
Subject BP30025503000
No P30012 75015 000
Table 1 BCI Competition III Dataset II size.
Fig. 4 Framework of sparse representation used in the P300 speller paradigm. Training samples are used to build the dictionary after sample selection. Test samples are then sparse represented and classified according to the sparse code and reconstruction error.
Fig. 5 Scores of all 15 300 training samples plotted against the sample number.
EpochWithout sample selectionDictionary sizeRand 2000
Table 2 Mean accuracy of two subjects using different dictionary sizes for sample selection. (%)
Table 3 Recognition rate of Channels Cz and Tp7. (%)
Fig. 6 (a) Performance for using each channel independently for Subject A. (b) Corresponding accuracy topography for Subject A. (c) Performance for using each channel independently for Subject B. (d) Corresponding accuracy topography for Subject B.
SubjectElectrode ranking
Table 4 8 top-ranked channels for Subjects A and B.
Table 5 Recognition rate on the test dataset for the proposed methods. (%)
Table 6 Recognition rates comparison with other methods in the literature. (%)
MethodTraining time (s)Test time (s)
Table 7 Efficiency comparison with other methods.
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