We propose a near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)-based brain-computer interface (BCI) that can be operated in eyes-closed (EC) state. To evaluate the feasibility of NIRS-based EC BCIs, we compared the performance of an eye-open (EO) BCI paradigm and an EC BCI paradigm with respect to hemodynamic response and classification accuracy. To this end, subjects performed either mental arithmetic or imagined vocalization of the English alphabet as a baseline task with very low cognitive loading. The performances of two linear classifiers were compared; resulting in an advantage of shrinkage linear discriminant analysis (LDA). The classification accuracy of EC paradigm (75.6 ± 7.3%) was observed to be lower than that of EO paradigm (77.0 ± 9.2%), which was statistically insignificant (p = 0.5698). Subjects reported they felt it more comfortable (p = 0.057) and easier (p < 0.05) to perform the EC BCI tasks. The different task difficulty may become a cause of the slightly lower classification accuracy of EC data. From the analysis results, we could confirm the feasibility of NIRS-based EC BCIs, which can be a BCI option that may ultimately be of use for patients who cannot keep their eyes open consistently.
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