The BCI headgear features NIRS (Near-Infrared Spectroscopy) and EEG (Electroencephalography) sensors that allow those with complete locked-in syndrome the ability to answer questions. (via Wysscenter)
It may not seem like much, especially with those that have always had the ability to talk, but for those who are unfortunately afflicted with ‘complete locked-in syndrome’, the Wyss Center’s new CBI headwear can give them the ability to communicate in a world where they had none at all.
There are two types of locked-in syndrome with the first having perceived awareness and cognition but only have the ability to move their eyes. Those with complete locked-in syndrome lose the ability to move their eyes and therefore and can no longer use them for communication. While they may have lost the ability to move their bodies, their minds are just fine and have complete consciousness.
The researchers BCI device measures blood-oxygen levels and electrical activity to garner yes or no answers to asked questions. (via Wyss)
The Wyss CBI headgear is outfitted with both NIRS (Near-Infrared Spectroscopy) and EEG (Electroencephalogram) sensors and electrodes that measure both blood and electrical activity in the brain. While using EEG is capable of telling you that a person’s brain is functioning, it can’t tell you the answers to simple yes or no questions, which is where NIRS technology comes in as it measures changes in blood flow and oxygen levels in a similar fashion as an MRI scan does.
The key lies in that blood flow as the researchers used a computer to measure those changes when asked questions. After a series of test questions, the algorithms are able to spot patterns that identify with the yes or no answers. The researchers tested their CBI platform using four people that have ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and asked them a series of both personal and open questions that only required a yes or no answer, such as “Are you happy?, Is your husband’s name is Joachim?, Is your mother’s name Margit?” and so-forth. One subject was asked whether he would agree if his daughter were to marry her boyfriend and answered ‘no’ nine times out of ten!
The researchers found that their technique was able to garner the correct answer 7 times out of 10 or with a 70% of accuracy. They also state that their platform is the first step at restoring communication for people who are locked-in as a result of ALS, stroke or spinal cord injuries. It’s important to note that the four subjects used in the testing agreed to do so and were fine with their quality of life as long as they had satisfactory at-home care. Just imagine how that quality of life would dramatically change with the ability to communicate.