A P300-Based Brain-Computer Interface for People With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

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Objective: The current study evaluates the efficacy of a P300-based brain-computer interface (BCI) communication device for individuals with advanced ALS.

Methods: Participants attended to one cell of a N x N matrix while the N rows and N columns flashed randomly. Each cell of the matrix contained one character. Every flash of an attended character served as a rare event in an oddball sequence and elicited a P300 response. Classification coefficients derived using a stepwise linear discriminant function were applied to the data after each set of flashes. The character receiving the highest discriminant score was presented as feedback.

Results: In Phase I, six participants used a 6 x 6 matrix on 12 separate days with a mean rate of 1.2 selections/min and mean online and offline accuracies of 62% and 82%, respectively. In Phase II, four participants used either a 6 x 6 or a 7 x 7 matrix to produce novel and spontaneous statements with a mean online rate of 2.1 selections/min and online accuracy of 79%. The amplitude and latency of the P300 remained stable over 40 weeks.

Conclusions: Participants could communicate with the P300-based BCI and performance was stable over many months.

Significance: BCIs could provide an alternative communication and control technology in the daily lives of people severely disabled by ALS.