Electroencephalography correlates of fear of heights in a virtual reality environment
Keywords:Electroencephalography, brain computer interfaces, fear of heights, virtual reality
An electroencephalography (EEG)-based classification system of three levels of fear of heights is proposed. A virtual reality (VR) scenario representing a canyon was exploited to gradually expose the subjects to fear inducing stimuli with increasing intensity. An elevating platform allowed the subjects to reach three different height levels. Psychometric tools were employed to initially assess the severity of fear of heights and to assess the effectiveness of fear induction. A feasibility study was conducted on eight subjects who underwent three experimental sessions. The EEG signals were acquired through a 32-channel headset during the exposure to the eliciting VR scenario. The main EEG bands and scalp regions were explored in order to identify which are the most affected by the fear of heights. As a result, the gamma band, followed by the high-beta band, and the frontal area of the scalp resulted the most significant. The average accuracies in the within-subject case for the three-classes fear classification task, were computed. The frontal region of the scalp resulted particularly relevant and an average accuracy of (68.20 ± 11.60) % was achieved using as features the absolute powers in the five EEG bands. Considering the frontal region only, the most significant EEG bands resulted to be the high-beta and gamma bands achieving accuracies of (57.90 ± 10.10) % and of (61.30 ± 8.43) %, respectively. The Sequential Feature Selection (SFS) confirmed those results by selecting for the whole set of channels, in the 48.26 % of the cases the gamma band and in the 22.92 % the high-beta band and by achieving an average accuracy of (86.10 ± 8.29) %.
Copyright (c) 2023 Andrea Apicella, Simone Barbato, Luis Alberto Barradas Chacόn, Giovanni D'Errico, Lucio Tommaso De Paolis, Luigi Maffei, Patrizia Massaro, Giovanna Mastrati, Nicola Moccaldi, Andrea Pollastro, Selina Christin Wriessenegger
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