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Prediction of difficulty levels in video games from ongoing EEG

Neumann, Laura; Schultze-Kraft, Matthias; Dähne, Sven; Blankertz, Benjamin

Real-time assessment of mental workload from EEG plays an important role in enhancing symbiotic interaction of human operators in immersive environments. In this study we thus aimed at predicting the difficulty level of a video game a person is playing at a particular moment from the ongoing EEG activity. Therefore, we made use of power modulations in the theta (4–7 Hz) and alpha (8–13 Hz) frequency bands of the EEG which are known to reflect cognitive workload. Since the goal was to predict from multiple difficulty levels, established binary classification approaches are futile. Here, we employ a novel spatial filtering method (SPoC) that finds spatial filters such that their corresponding bandpower dynamics maximally covary with a given target variable, in this case the difficulty level. EEG was recorded from 6 participants playing a modified Tetris game at 10 different difficulty levels. We found that our approach predicted the levels with high accuracy, yielding a mean prediction error of less than one level.
Published in: Symbiotic Interaction, 10.1007/978-3-319-57753-1_11, Springer