A closed-loop, music-based brain-computer interface for emotion mediation

TitleA closed-loop, music-based brain-computer interface for emotion mediation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsEhrlich S, Agres K, Guan C, Cheng G
JournalPLoS ONE
Date Published03/2019
Type of ArticleResearch Article
Keywordsbrain-computer interface, EEG, emotion mediation, music BCI, neurofeedback

Emotions play a critical role in rational and intelligent behavior; a better fundamental knowledge of them is indispensable for understanding higher order brain function. We propose a non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) system to feedback a person’s affective state such that a closed-loop interaction between the participant’s brain responses and the musical stimuli is established. We realized this concept technically in a functional prototype of an algorithm that generates continuous and controllable patterns of synthesized affective music in real-time, which is embedded within a BCI architecture. We evaluated our concept in two separate studies. In the first study, we tested the efficacy of our music algorithm by measuring subjective affective responses from 11 participants. In a second pilot study, the algorithm was embedded in a real-time BCI architecture to investigate affective closed-loop interactions in 5 participants. Preliminary results suggested that participants were able to intentionally modulate the musical feedback by self-inducing emotions (e.g., by recalling memories), suggesting that the system was able not only to capture the listener’s current affective state in real-time, but also potentially provide a tool for listeners to mediate their own emotions by interacting with music. The proposed concept offers a tool to study emotions in the loop, promising to cast a complementary light on emotion-related brain research, particularly in terms of clarifying the interactive, spatio-temporal dynamics underlying affective processing in the brain.