Transfer learning for motor imagery based brain-computer interfaces: A tutorial


. 2022 Jun 14;153:235-253.

doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2022.06.008.

Online ahead of print.


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Dongrui Wu et al.

Neural Netw.



A brain-computer interface (BCI) enables a user to communicate directly with an external device, e.g., a computer, using brain signals. It can be used to research, map, assist, augment, or repair human cognitive or sensory-motor functions. A closed-loop BCI system performs signal acquisition, temporal filtering, spatial filtering, feature engineering and classification, before sending out the control signal to an external device. Transfer learning (TL) has been widely used in motor imagery (MI) based BCIs to reduce the calibration effort for a new subject, greatly increasing their utility. This tutorial describes how TL can be considered in as many components of a BCI system as possible, and introduces a complete TL pipeline for MI-based BCIs. Examples on two MI datasets demonstrated the advantages of considering TL in multiple components of MI-based BCIs. Especially, integrating data alignment and sophisticated TL approaches can significantly improve the classification performance, and hence greatly reduces the calibration effort.


Brain–computer interface; Electroencephalogram; Euclidean alignment; Motor imagery; Transfer learning.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of Competing Interest The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

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