Journal of Neural Engineering, 11(5):056015, 2014 (article)
Objective. Brain–computer interface (BCI) systems are often based on motor- and/or sensory processes that are known to be impaired in late stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We propose a novel BCI designed for patients in late stages of ALS that only requires high-level cognitive processes to transmit information from the user to the BCI. Approach. We trained subjects via EEG-based neurofeedback to self-regulate the amplitude of gamma-oscillations in the superior parietal cortex (SPC). We argue that parietal gamma-oscillations are likely to be associated with high-level attentional processes, thereby providing a communication channel that does not rely on the integrity of sensory- and/or motor-pathways impaired in late stages of ALS. Main results. Healthy subjects quickly learned to self-regulate gamma-power in the SPC by alternating between states of focused attention and relaxed wakefulness, resulting in an average decoding accuracy of 70.2%. One locked-in ALS patient (ALS-FRS-R score of zero) achieved an average decoding accuracy significantly above chance-level though insufficient for communication (55.8%). Significance. Self-regulation of gamma-power in the SPC is a feasible paradigm for brain–computer interfacing and may be preserved in late stages of ALS. This provides a novel approach to testing whether completely locked-in ALS patients retain the capacity for goal-directed thinking.
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