2019-08-07: Invited Talk at ODU CS Summer Research Workshop: Introducing EEG in Data Science

The Department of Computer Science at ODU has been conducting summer workshops over the past few years for selected undergraduate student groups from India. During this period, they are provided with on-premise accommodation and are arranged to work closely with research groups. Researchers from various groups at ODU present their work and ongoing research to them. Some students who participated in this program in the past have already joined graduate programs at ODU. Ajay Gupta, the Director of Computer Resources at the Department of Computer Science, ODU plays a significant role in conducting this event. Overall, the program has been a great encouragement for students to engage in research.
This year, the summer workshop group comprised of 25 undergraduates from three universities: Acharya Institute of Technology, BNM Institute of Technology and Ramaiah Insitute of Technology. I had the privilege of presenting my work to them on behalf of the Web Science and Digital Libraries Research Group. I conducted this session on the 16th of July, 2019 at the Engineering and Computational Sciences Building (ECSB) at ODU.
My presentation was titled "Introduction to Data Science with EEG" (slides). With the hope of providing a more hands-on session, I brought two EEG recording devices, courtesy of my adviser Dr. Sampath Jayarathna. I started with an introduction about me and gave an overview of the talk. In the beginning, I explained the anatomy of the human brain and the cause of its electrical activity. I also told how parts of the brain correspond to different functions. Next, I discussed how the brainwave spectrum can be separated into frequency bands and the states of mind that they represent.
Following this, I moved on to introduce the EEG recording devices I bought with me. I had a Muse Headband and an Emotiv Insight, which I used to contrast between consumer level and research level EEG devices. With that context, I used the Emotiv Insight and the Emotiv BCI application to demonstrate "mind control," i.e., training a model to push an imaginary box using brainwaves only.
My first attempt at a demo was unsuccessful due to an error in Emotiv BCI. As a result, I pushed demonstrations to the end of the talk and discussed my work using EEG and Machine Learning. Here, I introduced the research group and the problem we were trying to address, i.e., early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental conditions via EEG. Next, I presented the specific neurodevelopmental condition we explored, which is Autism. I explained how we came up with the machine learning models and the rationale behind using them. I kept the fine details to a minimum and provided a high-level overview of each model along with their evaluation results. At this point, one student raised a question on why the specific activations were selected. It was a good entry point to discuss how different activation functions look like, and what purpose they each offer. Also, I gave visual examples of how overfitting can affect the performance of a model.
By the end of the session, I was successful at performing a working demonstration of the "mind control" task using Emotiv Insight and Emotiv BCI. I trained a model with two states: Neutral and Push, where Neutral is the idle state, and Push is the state where I'm attempting to push the virtual box. I was able to perform this successfully. I even had a volunteer who put the EEG cap and tried the same. Overall, this got the crowd intrigued about EEG and its potential.
I would like to thank my advisor Dr. Sampath Jayarathna, and Ajay Gupta, for providing me the opportunity to present our research at this workshop.