Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Karen Dijkstra (Donders series 496)

6 April 2021

Promotor: Prof. dr. ir. P.W.M. Desain
Co-promotor: Dr. J.D.R. Farquhar (Mind Affect, Nijmegen)

Semantic Processing for Neurotechnology: Exploiting the N400 for Brain Computer Interfacing

Processing information for meaning is an inherent part of our lives. Such processing of semantic information elicits a signal called the N400 that can be measured in brain activity. Furthermore, this signal can reveal how well incoming information fits in your current mental context.
For this thesis, Karen Dijkstra researched ways that this N400 signal can be used for neurotechnology. She investigated, for instance, whether we can guess which word is on a person’s mind based on their brain responses to specific words, or whether this signal can help determine which speaker one is attending to when exposed to two simultaneous speakers.
With the results of this research, together with existing research into applications based on this signal, it becomes clear that this N400 signal can be of use in certain specific application areas, but that possibilities of using this signal to determine the content of someone’s mental context are currently limited.