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Flex-Printed Ear-EEG Sensors for Adequate Sleep Staging at Home

  • da Silva Souto, Carlos F.1
  • Pätzold, Wiebke1
  • Wolf, Karen Insa1
  • Paul, Marina2
  • Matthiesen, Ida3
  • Bleichner, Martin G.3, 4
  • Debener, Stefan1, 3
  • 1 Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA, Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT, Oldenburg , (Germany)
  • 2 PSG-Auswertungs-Service, Stadtlohn , (Germany)
  • 3 Neuropsychology Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg , (Germany)
  • 4 Neurophysiology of Everyday Life Group, Department of Psychology, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg , (Germany)
Published Article
Frontiers in Digital Health
Frontiers Media S.A.
Publication Date
Jun 30, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fdgth.2021.688122
  • Digital Health
  • Original Research


A comfortable, discrete and robust recording of the sleep EEG signal at home is a desirable goal but has been difficult to achieve. We investigate how well flex-printed electrodes are suitable for sleep monitoring tasks in a smartphone-based home environment. The cEEGrid ear-EEG sensor has already been tested in the laboratory for measuring night sleep. Here, 10 participants slept at home and were equipped with a cEEGrid and a portable amplifier (mBrainTrain, Serbia). In addition, the EEG of Fpz, EOG_L and EOG_R was recorded. All signals were recorded wirelessly with a smartphone. On average, each participant provided data for M = 7.48 h. An expert sleep scorer created hypnograms and annotated grapho-elements according to AASM based on the EEG of Fpz, EOG_L and EOG_R twice, which served as the baseline agreement for further comparisons. The expert scorer also created hypnograms using bipolar channels based on combinations of cEEGrid channels only, and bipolar cEEGrid channels complemented by EOG channels. A comparison of the hypnograms based on frontal electrodes with the ones based on cEEGrid electrodes (κ = 0.67) and the ones based on cEEGrid complemented by EOG channels (κ = 0.75) both showed a substantial agreement, with the combination including EOG channels showing a significantly better outcome than the one without (p = 0.006). Moreover, signal excerpts of the conventional channels containing grapho-elements were correlated with those of the cEEGrid in order to determine the cEEGrid channel combination that optimally represents the annotated grapho-elements. The results show that the grapho-elements were well-represented by the front-facing electrode combinations. The correlation analysis of the grapho-elements resulted in an average correlation coefficient of 0.65 for the most suitable electrode configuration of the cEEGrid. The results confirm that sleep stages can be identified with electrodes placement around the ear. This opens up opportunities for miniaturized ear-EEG systems that may be self-applied by users.

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