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Public Event

Public Lecture

"Abolishment of the locked-in state with a Brain-Machine-Interface (BMI)"

Time: Wednesday 13.09.2017, 20:00h

Location: Alte Mensa, Wilhelmsplatz 3, 37073 Göttingen

Speaker: Niels Birbaumer, Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tuebingen, Germany; Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, Genèva, Switzerland

Completely locked-in patients (CLIS) cannot communicate with any motor response despite intact cognitive and emotional response systems. Four ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) patients in CLIS  learned to respond with a brain oxygenation and deoxygenation change of frontal brain areas using portable NIRS (near infrared spectroscopy) to short questions requiring a yes or no response presented auditorily within 15 seconds.CLIS duration in the four patients has lasted from 4 months to eight years and was validated with EOG measurement during all sessions.Each session contained 20 to 60 questions (half with yes and half with no answers). All experiments take place at the home of patients. Questions with known answers were used to train a support vector machine classifier (SVM). After achieving 70% correct answers open questions were asked and feedback of the classified answer was provided to the patients. EEG from 6 electrodes served to control sleep and vigilance decrement: questions were interrupted if sleep-like patterns appeared. 16 to 60 sessions over several months assured stability of communication with an average correct resonse rate of more than 70% to known and 90% correct answers to open questions.Among open questions quality of life questions were asked on a weekly basis to three of the patients with longer CLIS duration, all patients report good quality of life as previously reported by our group. Open questions answers are validated by stability over time, information of family and care takers, sentences with semantic errors and face validity (i.e. pain questions during periods of intense pain due to decubitus and other illness related problems). These results suggest that brain machine interfaces using metabolic brain signals may end the unbearable silence of CLIS.

Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG),The Eva and Horst Köhler-Stiftung, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF, Motor-Bic), Stiftung Volkswagenwerk (VW), Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, EU Horizon 2020: LUMINOUS