Self-initiation of EEG-based communication in paralyzed patients

Journal Article

By: J.; Perelmouter Kaiser, J.; Iversen, I. H.; Neumann, N.; Ghanayim, N.; Thilo Hinterberger; Kubler, A.; Kotchoubey, B.; Birbaumer, N.
Publication Name: Clin Neurophysiol
Year: 2001

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.

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