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C2: Direct brain communication, neuroprostheses and brain implants in paralysis

Alireza GharabaghiT, Marcos TatagibaTNiels BirbaumerZ, Carsten MehringJ

T = Neurosurgery, University Clinics Tübingen
Z = Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology
# = Neurology Centre, University Medical Center
J = Animal Physiol. & Neurobiol, Inst. of Biol.I

Scientific background

Several neurological conditions lead to intact cognition in a paralyzed body (locked-in-syndrome). Despite intact mental life these patients cannot interact with the environment. Previous work has shown that patients with locked-in syndrome due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or vegetative state are able to communicate with a BMI device using slow cortical potentials, event-related cortical potentials and sensori-motor rhythm of the EEG. Patients are trained to select letters or words from a computer menu by increasing or decreasing brain potentials voluntarily. It is not clear, however, whether patients transfer the learned communication skills from the locked-in state to the completely locked-in state and it was shown that patients with initiation of training after entering the completely locked-in state are unable to regulate brain activity and to select verbal commands. One main reason for the failure of direct brain communication in the completely locked-in patients is the signal to noise ratio of the EEG. Testing of BMI-performance of presurgical patients in previous work of the Freiburg/Tübingen consortium showed promising results with excellent signal-to-noise ratio and better BMI performance.


To implement and evaluate functional imaging/electrophysiology-guided and neuronavigation-targeted implantation of an individualized ECoG system with minimal medical risks and optimal BMI-performance (bits/minute information transmission). To maintain and secure verbal communication through direct brain-machine interface systems in complete paralysis.

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