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Workshop: AI for Science: from Theory to Practice

Evaluating the structure of cognitive tasks with transfer learning

Bruno Aristimunha · Raphael de Camargo · Walter Lopez Pinaya · Sylvain Chevallier · Alexandre Gramfort · C├ędric ROMMEL


Electroencephalography (EEG) decoding is a challenging task due to the limited availability of labelled data. While transfer learning is a promising technique to address this challenge, it assumes that transferable data domains and tasks are known, which is not the case in this setting. This study investigates the transferability of deep learning representations between different EEG decoding tasks. We conduct extensive experiments using state-of-the-art decoding models on two recently released EEG datasets, ERP Core and M3CV, containing over 140 subjects and 11 distinct cognitive tasks. We measure the transferability of learned representations by pre-training deep neural networks on one task and assessing their ability to decode subsequent tasks. Our experiments demonstrate that, even with linear probing transfer, significant improvements in decoding performance can be obtained, with gains of up to 28% compared with the pure supervised approach. Additionally, we discover evidence that certain decoding paradigms elicit specific and narrow brain activities, while others benefit from pre-training on a broad range of representations. By revealing which tasks transfer well and demonstrating the benefits of transfer learning for EEG decoding, our findings have practical implications for mitigating data scarcity in this setting. The transfer maps generated also provide insights into the hierarchical relations between cognitive tasks, hence enhancing our understanding of how these tasks are connected from a neuroscientific standpoint.

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