A Marked Point Process Filtering Approach for Tracking Sympathetic Arousal from Skin Conductance

Dilranjan S. Wickramasuriya, Rose T. Faghih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human emotion represents a complex neural process within the brain. The ability to automatically recognize emotions from physiological signals has the potential to impact humanity in multiple ways through applications in human-machine interaction, remote health monitoring, smart living environments and entertainment. We present a marked point process-based Bayesian filtering approach to track sympathetic arousal from skin conductance features. The rate at which individual skin conductance responses (SCRs) occur and their respective amplitudes encode important information regarding an individual's psychological arousal level. We develop a state-space model relating a latent neuropsychological arousal state to the rate at which neural impulses underlying SCRs occur and the impulse amplitudes. We simultaneously estimate both arousal and the state-space model parameters within an expectation-maximization framework. We evaluate our method on both simulated and experimental data. Results on simulated data indicate the method's ability to accurately estimate an unobserved state from marked point process observations. The experimental data include studies involving mental stress artificially-induced in laboratory environments, real-world driver stress and Pavlovian fear conditioning. Results on experimental data outperform previous Bayesian filtering approaches in terms of a lower sensitivity to small impulses and avoiding overfitting. The filter is thus able to estimate emotional arousal from skin conductance features and is a promising approach for everyday emotion recognition applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9051734
Pages (from-to)68499-68513
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2020


  • Affective computing
  • Kalman filters
  • biomedical signal processing
  • emotion recognition
  • estimation
  • state-space methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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