New Brain-Computer Interface lets completely “locked-in” man communicate with his son, ask for a beer

Read the Story

Show Top Comments

The possibility of being locked in like this is terrifying to me. It seems staying sane would be a challenge.


*A 36-year-old German man in a completely locked-in state was outfitted with a novel brain-computer interface (BCI) system that relies on auditory feedback. The man learned to alter his brain activity in response to that auditory feedback to compose simple messages. He used this ability to ask for a beer, for his caretakers to play his favorite rock band, and to communicate with his young son, according to a recent paper published in Nature Communications.* *BCIs interact with brain cells, recording the electrical activity of neurons and translating those signals into action. Such systems generally involve electrode sensors to record neuronal activity, a chipset to transmit the signals, and computer algorithms to translate the signals. BCIs can be external, similar to medical EEGs in that the electrodes are placed onto the scalp or forehead with a wearable cap, or they can be implanted directly into the brain. The former method is less invasive but can be less accurate because more noise interferes with the signals; the latter requires brain surgery, which can be risky. But for many paralyzed or locked-in patients, it’s an acceptable risk.*


This is amazing to hear but I’m always a bit cautious with information released by the lab of bierbaumer since it was revealed around 2019 that he faked a lot of data, especially those coming from completely locked in patients… I wrote my bachelor thesis about this topic and was really bummed about all this legal process…


With locked in symdrome, can you stjll blink? Or is it total body paralysis?


Encouraging story. They left out the sad detail that his condition further deteriorated and scar tissue developed; the brain interface stopped working. Sorry to wreck the feel good EDIT: I cannot find my source for this. I remember reading this detail in another article. Honestly, I hope I’m remembering wrong!