Transferring subspaces between subjects in brain - Computer interfacing

Wojciech Samek, Frank C. Meinecke, Klaus Robert Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Citations (Scopus)


Compensating changes between a subjects' training and testing session in brain-computer interfacing (BCI) is challenging but of great importance for a robust BCI operation. We show that such changes are very similar between subjects, and thus can be reliably estimated using data from other users and utilized to construct an invariant feature space. This novel approach to learning from other subjects aims to reduce the adverse effects of common nonstationarities, but does not transfer discriminative information. This is an important conceptual difference to standard multisubject methods that, e.g., improve the covariance matrix estimation by shrinking it toward the average of other users or construct a global feature space. These methods do not reduces the shift between training and test data and may produce poor results when subjects have very different signal characteristics. In this paper, we compare our approach to two state-of-the-art multisubject methods on toy data and two datasets of EEG recordings from subjects performing motor imagery. We show that it can not only achieve a significant increase in performance, but also that the extracted change patterns allow for a neurophysiologically meaningful interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6482603
Pages (from-to)2289-2298
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Brain-computer interface (BCI)
  • common spatial patterns (CSP)
  • nonstationarity
  • transfer learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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