Brain-computer interfaces and communication in paralysis: Extinction of goal directed thinking in completely paralysed patients?

A. Kübler, N. Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the relationship between physical impairment and brain-computer interface (BCI) performance. Method: We present a meta-analysis of 29 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and six patients with other severe neurological diseases in different stages of physical impairment who were trained with a BCI. In most cases voluntary regulation of slow cortical potentials has been used as input signal for BCI-control. More recently sensorimotor rhythms and the P300 event-related brain potential were recorded. Results: A strong correlation has been found between physical impairment and BCI performance, indicating that performance worsens as impairment increases. Seven patients were in the complete locked-in state (CLIS) with no communication possible. After removal of these patients from the analysis, the relationship between physical impairment and BCI performance disappeared. The lack of a relation between physical impairment and BCI performance was confirmed when adding BCI data of patients from other BCI research groups. Conclusions: Basic communication (yes/no) was not restored in any of the CLIS patients with a BCI. Whether locked-in patients can transfer learned brain control to the CLIS remains an open empirical question. Significance: Voluntary brain regulation for communication is possible in all stages of paralysis except the CLIS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2658-2666
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Volume119
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008

Keywords

  • Brain-computer communication
  • Brain-computer interfaces
  • Complete locked-in state
  • Consciousness
  • Locked-in state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems

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