Bensch, M., Martens, S., Halder, S., Hill, J., Nijboer, F., Ramos, A., Birbaumer, N., Bodgan, M., Kotchoubey, B., Rosenstiel, W., Schölkopf, B., Gharabaghi, A.
Journal of Neural Engineering, 11(2):026006, 2014 (article)
Objective. Patients in the completely locked-in state (CLIS), due to, for example, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), no longer possess voluntary muscle control. Assessing attention and cognitive function in these patients during the course of the disease is a challenging but essential task for both nursing staff and physicians. Approach. An electrophysiological cognition test battery, including auditory and semantic stimuli, was applied in a late-stage ALS patient at four different time points during a six-month epidural electrocorticography (ECoG) recording period. Event-related cortical potentials (ERP), together with changes in the ECoG signal spectrum, were recorded via 128 channels that partially covered the left frontal, temporal and parietal cortex. Main results. Auditory but not semantic stimuli induced significant and reproducible ERP projecting to specific temporal and parietal cortical areas. N1/P2 responses could be detected throughout the whole study period. The highest P3 ERP was measured immediately after the patient's last communication through voluntary muscle control, which was paralleled by low theta and high gamma spectral power. Three months after the patient's last communication, i.e., in the CLIS, P3 responses could no longer be detected. At the same time, increased activity in low-frequency bands and a sharp drop of gamma spectral power were recorded. Significance. Cortical electrophysiological measures indicate at least partially intact attention and cognitive function during sparse volitional motor control for communication. Although the P3 ERP and frequency-specific changes in the ECoG spectrum may serve as indicators for CLIS, a close-meshed monitoring will be required to define the exact time point of the transition.
Clinical Neurophysiology, 122(5):925-933 , May 2011 (article)
To clarify the physiological and behavioral boundaries between locked-in (LIS) and the completely locked-in state (CLIS) (no voluntary eye movements, no communication possible) through electrophysiological data and to secure brain–computer-interface (BCI) communication.
Electromyography from facial muscles, external anal sphincter (EAS), electrooculography and electrocorticographic data during different psychophysiological tests were acquired to define electrophysiological differences in an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patient with an intracranially implanted grid of 112 electrodes for nine months while the patient passed from the LIS to the CLIS.
At the very end of the LIS there was no facial muscle activity, nor external anal sphincter but eye control. Eye movements were slow and lasted for short periods only. During CLIS event related brain potentials (ERP) to passive limb movements and auditory stimuli were recorded, vibrotactile stimulation of different body parts resulted in no ERP response.
The results presented contradict the commonly accepted assumption that the EAS is the last remaining muscle under voluntary control and demonstrate complete loss of eye movements in CLIS. The eye muscle was shown to be the last muscle group under voluntary control. The findings suggest ALS as a multisystem disorder, even affecting afferent sensory pathways.
Auditory and proprioceptive brain–computer-interface (BCI) systems are the only remaining communication channels in CLIS.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems