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What can we learn from spontaneously occurring brain and other physiological signals about an individual’s cognitive and affective state and how can we make use of this information?

What can we learn from spontaneously occurring brain and other physiological signals about an individual’s cognitive and affective state and how can we make use of this information?

One line of research that is actively involved with this question is Passive Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCI). To date most BCIs are aimed at assisting patients for whom brain signals could form an alternative output channel as opposed to more common human output channels, like speech and moving the hands. However, brain signals (possibly in combination with other physiological signals) also form an output channel above and beyond the more usual ones: they can potentially provide continuous, online information about an individual’s cognitive and affective state without the need of conscious or effortful communication. The provided information could be used in a number of ways. Examples include monitoring cognitive workload through EEG and skin conductance for adaptive automation or using ERPs in response to errors to correct for a behavioral response. While Passive BCIs make use of online (neuro)physiological responses and close the interaction cycle between a user and a computer system, (neuro)physiological responses can also be used in an offline fashion. Examples of this include detecting amygdala responses for neuromarketing, and measuring EEG and pupil dilation as indicators of mental effort for optimizing information systems.

The described field of applied (neuro)physiology can strongly benefit from high quality scientific studies that control for confounding factors and use proper comparison conditions. Another area of relevance is ethics, ranging from dubious product claims, acceptance of the technology by the general public, privacy of users, to possible effects that these kinds of applications may have on society as a whole.

In this Research Topic we would like to publish studies of the highest scientific quality that are directed towards applications that utilize spontaneously, effortlessly generated neurophysiological signals (brain and/or other physiological signals) reflecting cognitive or affective state. We especially welcome studies that describe specific real world applications demonstrating a significant benefit compared to standard applications. We also look forward to original, new kinds of (proposed) applications in this area as well as comprehensive review articles that point out what is and what is not possible (according to scientific standards) in this field. Finally, we welcome manuscripts on the ethical issues that are involved.
Connected to the Research Topic is a workshop (held on June 6, during the Fifth International Brain-Computer Interface Meeting, June 3-7, 2013, Asilomar, California) that is intended to bring people together who are interested and working in this field. Together we will discuss the state of the art of the field, formulate the major challenges and compose a list of recommendations for future research. The workshop is an opportunity to meet and discuss but not obligatory for publishing in the Research Topic.

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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