February 2, 2017

Ingenious device allow researchers to “read the minds” of complete locked-in syndrome patients who say they are happy

Kerstin Wirth, who has been completely paralyzed by ALS, is shown wearing a brain-computer interface device in Geneva, Switzerland, during a test measuring her responses to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. (Wyss Center)
Kerstin Wirth, who has been completely paralyzed by ALS
‘Locked-in syndrome’ is a rare neurological disorder characterized by complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body except for those that control up and down eye movement. Patients can communicate by using simple blinking systems.

But complete locked-in syndrome [CLIS] patients–as was the case in a study the results of which were just published– have lost eye movement as well

In a groundbreaking experiment reported in the journal PLOS Biology, four complete locked-in patients “told doctors they are ‘happy’ using an astonishing new brain computer interface which deciphers their thoughts,” according to Daily Telegraph Science Editor Sarah Knapton. Although incapable of even moving their eyes, they “were able to respond with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to spoken questions.”

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