Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Brain-Computer Interface Helps "Locked-In" People

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Brain-Computer Interface Helps "Locked-In" People

Article excerpt

A brain-computer interface that can decipher the thoughts of people unable to communicate could revolutionize the lives of those living with complete locked-in syndrome, according to researchers. Counter to expectations, the participants in the study reported being "happy" despite their condition.

In the trial, people with complete locked-in syndrome, incapable of even moving their eyes to communicate, could respond "yes" or "no" via thought to spoken questions. A noninvasive brain-computer interface (BCI) detected their responses by measuring changes in blood oxygen levels in the brain.

The results overturn previous theories that people with complete locked-in syndrome lack the goal-directed thinking necessary to use a brain computer interface and are therefore incapable of communication.

Extensive investigations were carried out in four people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive motor neuron disease that leads to complete destruction of the part of the nervous system responsible for movement.

The researchers asked personal questions with known answers and open questions that needed "yes" or "no" answers, including: "Your husband's name is Joachim?" and "Are you happy?" They found the questions elicited correct responses seven times out of ten. …

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