Towards real-world neuroscience using mobile EEG and augmented reality.


AbstractOur visual environment impacts multiple aspects of cognition including perception, attention and memory, yet most studies traditionally remove or control the external environment. As a result, we have a limited understanding of neurocognitive processes beyond the controlled lab environment. Here, we aim to study neural processes in real-world environments, while also maintaining a degree of control over perception. To achieve this, we combined mobile EEG (mEEG) and augmented reality (AR), which allows us to place virtual objects into the real world. We validated this AR and mEEG approach using a well-characterised cognitive response—the face inversion effect. Participants viewed upright and inverted faces in three EEG tasks (1) a lab-based computer task, (2) walking through an indoor environment while seeing face photographs, and (3) walking through an indoor environment while seeing virtual faces. We find greater low frequency EEG activity for inverted compared to upright faces in all experimental tasks, demonstrating that cognitively relevant signals can be extracted from mEEG and AR paradigms. This was established in both an epoch-based analysis aligned to face events, and a GLM-based approach that incorporates continuous EEG signals and face perception states. Together, this research helps pave the way to exploring neurocognitive processes in real-world environments while maintaining experimental control using AR.