What would brain-computer interface users want? Opinions and priorities of potential users with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2011 Sep;12(5):318-24. doi: 10.3109/17482968.2011.572978. Epub 2011 May 2.


Universal design principles advocate inclusion of end users in every design stage, including research and development. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have long been described as potential tools to enable people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to operate technology without moving. Therefore the objective of the current study is to determine the opinions and priorities of people with ALS regarding BCI design. This information will guide BCIs in development to meet end-user needs. A telephone survey was undertaken of 61 people with ALS from the University of Michigan's Motor Neuron Disease Clinic. With regard to BCI design, participants prioritized accuracy of command identification of at least 90% (satisfying 84% of respondents), speed of operation comparable to at least 15-19 letters per minute (satisfying 72%), and accidental exits from a standby mode not more than once every 2-4 h (satisfying 84%). While 84% of respondents would accept using an electrode cap, 72% were willing to undergo outpatient surgery and 41% to undergo surgery with a short hospital stay in order to obtain a BCI. In conclusion, people with ALS expressed a strong interest in obtaining BCIs, but current BCIs do not yet provide desired BCI performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / rehabilitation*
  • Communication Aids for Disabled / psychology
  • Communication Aids for Disabled / statistics & numerical data*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • User-Computer Interface*