We have developed methods to detect with EEG when a subject perceives a salient stimulus amongst a list of rapidly presented stimuli (10 per second). The majority of stimuli presented at this rate are not consciously reportable. However, the brain is selectively processing stimuli at such speeds; for example, it can detect the presence and identify of stimuli that fit a task template (e.g. the image containing an animal) or are intrinsically (and personally) salient (e.g. the word “spider” for a spider phobic).
Such modes of presentation have been extensively studied from a theoretical perspective, thereby, clarifying perceptual and attentional processing in humans. While continuing to investigate such fringe awareness theoretically, we are also exploring applications of such techniques in brain computer interaction. The space of potential applications of such methods is broad, including, lie detecting, interacting with vegetative and coma patients, control of computing and mobility devices, brain-salience directed search and retrieval, and adaptive computer interfaces. In this context, we have developed an EEG-based brain-computer interface called the Fringe-P3 method and a lie detector, which we have tested on a variety of stimulus types. All these areas along with theoretical investigations of perception and attention are potential subjects for PhD research.
Bowman, H. et al. (2014). Countering Countermeasures: Detecting Identity Lies by Detecting Conscious Breakthrough. PLoS ONE 9:e90595.
Bowman, H. et al. (2013). Subliminal Salience Search Illustrated: EEG Identity and Deception Detection on the Fringe of Awareness. PLoS ONE 8:1-21.
Chennu, S. et al. (2013). The cost of space independence in P300-BCI spellers. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 10:1-13.