and coordination of these modules is
accomplished through a fourth operator module; several source modules,
signal-processing modules, and user
applications have been created for the
BCI2000 standard (see http://www.
The Wadsworth Center recently began developing a system for home use
by individuals with severe motor impairments. 32 Its basic hardware (see
Figure 5) consists of a laptop computer with 16-channel EEG acquisition, a
second screen placed in front of the
user, and an electrode cap; software is
provided by the BCI2000 general-purpose system. 25 The initial users had
late-stage ALS, with little or no voluntary movement, and found conventional assistive communication devices inadequate for their needs. The
P300-based matrix speller is used for
these applications due to its relatively
high throughput for spelling and simplicity of use. A 49-year-old scientist
with ALS has used this BCI system on
a daily basis for approximately three
years, finding it superior to his eye-gaze system (a letter-selection device
based on eye-gaze direction) and using it from four to six hours per day
for email and other communication
How far BCI technology will go and
how useful it will be depend on future
research developments. However, it is
apparent that BCIs can serve the basic communication needs of people
whose severe motor disabilities prevent them from using conventional
augmentive communications devices,
all of which require muscle control.
This work was supported in part by
grants from the National Institutes of
Health HD30146 (NCMRR, NICHD)
and EB00856 (NIBIB & NINDS) and the
James S. McDonnell Foundation. We
thank Chad Boulay and Peter Brunner for their comments on the manuscript.
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Dennis J. McFarland ( email@example.com) is a
research scientist in the laboratory of neural Injury and
repair at the Wadsworth Center of the new york State
Department of Health, albany, ny.
Jonathan R. Wolpaw ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a
research physician in the laboratory of neural Injury and
repair in the Wadsworth Center of the new york State
Department of Health, albany, ny.