Vividness of Visual Imagery and Personality Impact Motor-Imagery Brain Computer Interfaces

Nikki Leeuwis*, Alissa Paas, Maryam Alimardani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are communication bridges between a human brain and external world, enabling humans to interact with their environment without muscle intervention. Their functionality, therefore, depends on both the BCI system and the cognitive capacities of the user. Motor-imagery BCIs (MI-BCI) rely on the users' mental imagination of body movements. However, not all users have the ability to sufficiently modulate their brain activity for control of a MI-BCI; a problem known as BCI illiteracy or inefficiency. The underlying mechanism of this phenomenon and the cause of such difference among users is yet not fully understood. In this study, we investigated the impact of several cognitive and psychological measures on MI-BCI performance. Fifty-five novice BCI-users participated in a left- versus right-hand motor imagery task. In addition to their BCI classification error rate and demographics, psychological measures including personality factors, affinity for technology, and motivation during the experiment, as well as cognitive measures including visuospatial memory and spatial ability and Vividness of Visual Imagery were collected. Factors that were found to have a significant impact on MI-BCI performance were Vividness of Visual Imagery, and the personality factors of orderliness and autonomy. These findings shed light on individual traits that lead to difficulty in BCI operation and hence can help with early prediction of inefficiency among users to optimize training for them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number634748
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2021


  • brain-computer interface
  • motor imagery
  • BCI illiteracy
  • BCI performance
  • cognitive abilities
  • personality traits
  • vividness of visual imagery questionnaire
  • visuospatial memory and spatial ability


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