Prof. Stefan Debener

Stefan DebenerNeuropsychology Lab
Department of Psychology
University of Oldenburg, Germany

Stefan Debener studied Psychology at Technical University in Berlin from 1989 to 1996. In 2001 he received his PhD from the Technical University of Dresden. Following a post-doc at the Institute of Neurophysiology at Hamburg Eppendorf University Medical School (supervisor Prof. Andreas Engel) he became a senior clinical scientist in Southampton, UK, working at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research. In 2008 he accepted a call to Jena University Medical School and became head of the Biomag Centre. He moved to Oldenburg in 2009, where he has a chair in Psychology and is head of the Neuropsychology Lab.

EEG to take away: Towards a mobile brain-computer interface

Established methods for the non-invasive study of human brain function require that participants avoid gross movements during signal acquisition. This poses a severe problem for neuroscience research investigating brain-behavior relationships: unrestricted behavior is not well tolerated during recording. Aiming towards overcoming this limitation we developed a small, wireless, light-weighted and fully head-mounted electroencephalography (EEG) system. I will present two studies demonstrating that the recording of brain activity is possible while participants are engaged in daily-life activities. Using a simple auditory attention task we found that the most prominent response of the brain to attended sounds, the P300 event-related potential, can be detected on a single-trial level. Differences between seated and active outdoors walking conditions reflect different cognitive demands rather than differences in EEG signal quality. The results suggest that a mobile brain-computer interface (BCI) is feasible. However, one of several remaining concerns is the need for the use of an EEG electrodes cap, compromising potential daily-life applications. To tackle this issue we explore the value of miniaturized EEG electrodes. By placing mini EEG electrodes at rather unusual location, such as the outer ear canal, it may become possible to develop a near-invisible EEG acquisition, thereby improving the practicability of a mobile BCI