Brain-computer communication: unlocking the locked in

Psychol Bull. 2001 May;127(3):358-75. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.127.3.358.


With the increasing efficiency of life-support systems and better intensive care, more patients survive severe injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Many of these patients experience locked-in syndrome: The active mind is locked in a paralyzed body. Consequently, communication is extremely restricted or impossible. A muscle-independent communication channel overcomes this problem and is realized through a brain-computer interface, a direct connection between brain and computer. The number of technically elaborated brain-computer interfaces is in contrast with the number of systems used in the daily life of locked-in patients. It is hypothesized that a profound knowledge and consideration of psychological principles are necessary to make brain-computer interfaces feasible for locked-in patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Microcomputers
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology*
  • Quadriplegia / rehabilitation
  • User-Computer Interface*