Self-initiation of EEG-based communication in paralyzed patients

Jochen Kaiser, Jouri Perelmouter, Iver H. Iversen, Nicola Neumann, Nimr Ghanayim, Thilo Hinterberger, Andrea Kübler, Boris Kotchoubey, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Severely paralyzed patients could learn to voluntarily generate slow cortical potential (SCP) shifts in their electroencephalogram and to use these signals to operate a communication device. To enhance the patients' autonomy, the present study describes the development of a permanently available communication system that can be turned on and off by locked-in patients without external assistance. A skill necessary for turning the system on is the ability to regulate one's slow potentials in the absence of continuous feedback. Methods: A stepwise learning approach was employed to train two paralyzed patients to regulate their SCPs without continuous feedback. Elements of the original communication system were gradually removed and elements of the new stand-by mode were introduced. Results: At the end of the learning procedure, both patients achieved correct response rates of above 84% in training sessions without continuous feedback. This skill enabled them to turn the communication device on and off without assistance from others. Conclusions: These findings suggest that severely paralyzed individuals can learn to operate an EEG-based communication device autonomously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-554
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Communication
  • Self-regulation
  • Slow cortical potentials
  • Stand-by mode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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