A linearly extendible multi-artifact removal approach for improved upper extremity EEG-based motor imagery decoding


Background and Objective: Non-invasive multichannel Electroencephalography (EEG) recordings provide an alternative source of neural information from which motor imagery (MI) patterns associated with limb movement intent can be decoded for use as control inputs for rehabilitation robots. The presence of multiple inherent dynamic artifacts in EEG signals, however, poses processing challenges for brain-computer interface (BCI) systems. A large proportion of the existing EEG signal preprocessing methods focus on isolating single artifact per time from an ensemble of EEG trials and require calibration and/or reference electrodes, resulting in increased complexity of their application to MI-EEG controlled rehabilitation devices in practical settings. Also, a few existing multi-artifacts removal methods though explored in other domains, they have rarely been investigated in the space of MI-EEG signals for multiple artifacts cancellation in a simultaneous manner. Approach: Building on the premise of previous works, this study propose a semi-automatic EEG preprocessing method that combines Generalized Eigenvalue Decomposition driven by low-rank approximation and a Multi-channel Wiener Filter (GEVD-MWF) that employs a learning technique for simultaneous elimination of multiple artifacts from MI-EEG signals. The proposed method is applied to remove multiple artifacts from 64-channel EEG signals recorded from transhumeral amputees while they performed distinct classes of upper limb MI tasks before decoding their movement intent using a selection of features and machine learning algorithms. Main Results: Experimental results show that the proposed GEVD-MWF method yields significant improvements in MI decoding accuracies, in the range of 13.23%-41.21% compared to four existing popular artifact removal algorithms. Further investigation revealed that the GEVD-MWF approach enabled accuracies in the range of 90.44% - 99.67% using "single trial" EEG recordings, which could eliminate the need to record and process large ensembles of EEG trials as commonly required in some existing approaches. Additionally, using a variant of the sequential forward floating selection algorithm, a subset of 9 channels was used to obtain a decoding accuracy of 93.73%±1.58%. Significance: Given its improved performance, reduced data requirements, and feasibility with few channels, the proposed GEVD-MWF could potentially spur the development of effective real-time control strategies for multi-degree of freedom EEG-based miniaturized rehabilitation robotic interfaces.