Driving steady-state visual evoked potentials at arbitrary frequencies using temporal interpolation of stimulus presentation
Background: Steady-state visual evoked potentials have been utilized widely in basic and applied research in recent
years. These oscillatory responses of the visual cortex are elicited by flickering stimuli. They have the same fundamental
frequency as the driving stimulus and are highly sensitive to manipulations of attention and stimulus properties.
While standard computer monitors offer great flexibility in the choice of visual stimuli for driving SSVEPs, the frequencies
that can be elicited are limited to integer divisors of the monitor’s refresh rate.
Results: To avoid this technical constraint, we devised an interpolation technique for stimulus presentation, with
which SSVEPs can be elicited at arbitrary frequencies. We tested this technique with monitor refresh rates of 85 and
120 Hz. At a refresh rate of 85 Hz, interpolated presentation produced artifacts in the recorded spectrum in the form
of additional peaks not located at the stimulated frequency or its harmonics. However, at a refresh rate of 120 Hz,
these artifacts did not occur and the spectrum elicited by an interpolated flicker became indistinguishable from the
spectrum obtained by non-interpolated presentation of the same frequency.
Conclusions: Our interpolation technique eliminates frequency limitations of the common non-interpolated presentation
technique and has many possible applications for future research.
Keywords: EEG, SSVEP, Stimulus presentation, Frequency-tagging, BCI, Vision, Oscillation