BACKGROUND: The N170 is a "face-sensitive" event-related potential (ERP) that occurs at around 170ms over occipito-temporal brain regions. The N170's potential to provide insight into the neural processing of faces in certain populations (e.g., children and adults with cognitive impairments) is limited by its measurement in scientific laboratories that can appear threatening to some people.
NEW METHOD: The advent of cheap, easy-to-use portable gaming EEG systems provides an opportunity to record EEG in new contexts and populations. This study tested the validity of the face-sensitive N170 ERP measured with an adapted commercial EEG system (the Emotiv EPOC) that is used at home by gamers.
RESULTS: The N170 recorded through both the gaming EEG system and the research EEG system exhibited face-sensitivity, with larger mean amplitudes in response to the face stimuli than the non-face stimuli, and a delayed N170 peak in response to face inversion.
COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHOD: The EPOC system produced very similar N170 ERPs to a research-grade Neuroscan system, and was capable of recording face-sensitivity in the N170, validating its use as research tool in this arena.
CONCLUSIONS: This opens new possibilities for measuring the face-sensitive N170 ERP in people who cannot travel to a traditional ERP laboratory (e.g., elderly people in care), who cannot tolerate laboratory conditions (e.g., people with autism), or who need to be tested in situ for practical or experimental reasons (e.g., children in schools).