A validation of emotiv EPOC Flex saline for EEG and ERP research

Nikolas S. Williams*, Genevieve M. McArthur, Bianca de Wit, George Ibrahim, Nicholas A. Badcock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Previous work has validated consumer-grade electroencephalography (EEG) systems for use in research. Systems in this class are cost-effective and easy to set up and can facilitate neuroscience outside of the laboratory. The aim of the current study was to determine if a new consumer-grade system, the Emotiv EPOC Saline Flex, was capable of capturing research-quality data. Method: The Emotiv system was used simultaneously with a research-grade EEG system, Neuroscan Synamps2, to collect EEG data across 16 channels during five well-established paradigms: (1) a mismatch negativity (MMN) paradigm that involved a passive listening task in which rare deviant (1,500 Hz) tones were interspersed amongst frequent standard tones (1,000 Hz), with instructions to ignore the tones while watching a silent movie; (2) a P300 paradigm that involved an active listening task in which participants were asked to count rare deviant tones presented amongst frequent standard tones; (3) an N170 paradigm in which participants were shown images of faces and watches and asked to indicate whether the images were upright or inverted; (4) a steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP) paradigm in which participants passively viewed a flickering screen (15 Hz) for 2 min; and (5) a resting state paradigm in which participants sat quietly with their eyes open and then closed for 3 min each. Results: The MMN components and P300 peaks were equivalent between the two systems (BF10 = 0.25 and BF10 = 0.26, respectively), with high intraclass correlations (ICCs) between the ERP waveforms (>0.81). Although the N170 peak values recorded by the two systems were different (BF10 = 35.88), ICCs demonstrated that the N170 ERP waveforms were strongly correlated over the right hemisphere (P8; 0.87-0.97), and moderately-to-strongly correlated over the left hemisphere (P7; 0.52-0.84). For the SSVEP, the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) was larger for Neuroscan than Emotiv EPOC Flex (19.94 vs. 8.98, BF10 = 51,764), but SNR z-scores indicated a significant brain response at the stimulus frequency for both Neuroscan (z = 12.47) and Flex (z = 11.22). In the resting state task, both systems measured similar alpha power (BF10 = 0.28) and higher alpha power when the eyes were closed than open (BF10 = 32.27). Conclusions: The saline version of the Emotiv EPOC Flex captures data similar to that of a research-grade EEG system. It can be used to measure reliable auditory and visual research-quality ERPs. In addition, it can index SSVEP signatures and is sensitive to changes in alpha oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9713
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • EEG
  • ERP
  • Emotiv
  • validation
  • MMN
  • P300
  • EPOC Flex
  • N170
  • alpha


Dive into the research topics of 'A validation of emotiv EPOC Flex saline for EEG and ERP research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this