The Science

Spatial Resolution – Whole Brain Sensing

The brain is a very complex system. The frontal cortex, the region where most of your conscious thoughts and decisions are made, conducts much less than a tenth of the total activity in the brain.


Planning, modeling of your surroundings, interpretation of sensory inputs up to and including your perception of reality, memory processing and storage and the basic drivers of your moods and emotions occur in many functional regions distributed around the brain, including the visual cortex at the rear, temporal cortex at the sides, parietal cortex behind the crown of your head and the limbic system deep inside the brain. The limbic system controls your basic moods and emotions, your fight/flight response and deeper long term memory encoding as well as control of basic bodily functions such as breathing and heartbeat.


Most of these deeper functions interact intimately with different parts of the cortex (the outer layer which is accessible to EEG measurements) however the interaction is quite complex and distributed. In order to map the true activity of the brain it is very important to measure signals from many different cortical structures located all around the brain surface. It is not possible to map these signals purely from the frontal and temporal regions. Determination of the user’s complete mental state is very poorly approximated unless signals from the rear of the brain are also considered.


With proper coverage and electrode configuration, it is possible to reconstruct a source model of all important brain regions and to see their interplay. Alternative systems missing these critical signals will tell less than half of the story. Generally they are restricted to determining level of consciousness, the amount and intensity of processing and (in some cases) the left/right hemispheric imbalance in frontal signals. While these are useful in some contexts, they provide a very limited and inaccurate view of the user’s state of mind.

The EMOTIV Difference

Our devices have been developed for research and development applications. We have maintained an uncompromising approach to the design and development of our mobile EEG systems and we believe that spatial resolution; detecting activity across the main cortices of the brain is crucial to obtaining high-quality data. The wealth of data we have accumulated and analyzed and our detection algorithms, we believe, are second to none.


Our sensor tip materials are safe, easy and comfortable to use for extended periods of time and all removable parts are replaceable providing longevity and performance.


Our technology is backed and trusted by the scientific, academic, engineering and media communities and has been validated via scores of independent research papers.

3D Brain Visualizer

Video capture of our 3D Brain Visualizer application showing activity over the entire brain and across the four major frequencies Delta, Theta, Alpha and Beta, using our 5 channel mobile EEG headset the EMOTIV Insight.

Note: this is not possible with single channel EEG systems limited to detections of only the frontal lobe. 

Detection Algorithms

EMOTIV offers three different kinds of detection algorithm, all of them built on extensive scientific studies to develop accurate machine learning algorithms to classify and grade the intensity of different conditions.


Facial Expressions – muscle artifacts which commonly get rejected in laboratory EEG studies are diverted and classified to map the activation in different muscle groups and eye movement events. Our universal detections can be fine tuned for each individual to indicate 12 different facial expressions or events. Individuals with partial paralysis or unusual musculature can custom-train the activations. These events can be used to animate an avatar, detect specific responses and they may be tasked to execute commands.


Performance Metrics – EMOTIV currently measures 6 different emotional and sub-conscious dimensions in real time – Excitement (Arousal), Interest (Valence), Stress (Frustration), Engagement/Boredom, Attention (Focus) and Meditation (Relaxation). We continue to improve and refine our Performance Metrics algorithms as well as build new detections.


These detections were developed based on rigorous experimental studies involving at least 20-30 volunteers for each state, where subjects were taken through experiences to elicit different levels of the desired state. They were wired up with many additional biometric measures (heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, blood volume flow, skin impedance and eye tracking), observed and recorded by a trained psychologist and also self-reported. EMOTIV Performance Metrics have been validated in many independent peer-reviewed studies.


Mental Commands – based on unique and highly efficient methods, EMOTIV has developed a system for users to train direct mental commands where the user trains the system to recognize thought patterns related to different desired outcomes, such as moving objects or making them disappear. The system can be trained to recognize a single command in less than 20 seconds.


EmoKey – our custom software allows untrained users to be able to link their mental commands and emotional reactions directly to keystrokes, mouse operations or gestures within the host machine, allowing non-programmers to incorporate mental commands and mental state detections directly into existing applications.


Combined with the on-board motion sensor we can provide a hands-free brain-controlled mouse, adjust music volume or track skip depending in mood, and many other options.


All this can be embedded into third party applications using our SDK.

Backed-By Science

The accuracy of our technology has been validated by independent studies many times over. The graphs below show a direct comparison with a clinical grade system (titled ‘Research’) costing many thousands of dollars along side the EMOTIV Epoc (titled ‘Gaming’). The results speak for themselves.


From ‘Validation of the EMOTIV Epoc® EEG gaming system for measuring research quality auditory ERPs’ by Nicholas A. Badcock, Petroula Mousikou, Yatin Mahajan, Peter de Lissa, Johnson Thie, Genevieve McArthur. ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, United Kingdom. School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Research and gaming system ERP waveforms by condition, tone type, and hemisphere.

The ‘research’ system cost $60,000. The ‘gaming’ system is the EMOTIV Epoc+ costing $799.


Research and gaming systemMismatch Negativity related waveforms by hemisphere.

The ‘research’ system cost $60,000. The ‘gaming’ system is the EMOTIV Epoc+ costing $799.


For more information, please visit our independent studies section.

Independent Studies