A Brain-Computer Interface Controlled Auditory Event-Related Potential (P300) Spelling System for Locked-In Patients

Andrea Kübler, Adrian Furdea, Sebastian HaIder, Eva Maria Hammer, Femke Nijboer, Boris Kotchoubey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

208 Citations (Scopus)


Using brain–computer interfaces (BCI) humans can select letters or other targets on a computer screen without any muscular involvement. An intensively investigated kind of BCI is based on the recording of visual event‐related brain potentials (ERP). However, some severely paralyzed patients who need a BCI for communication have impaired vision or lack control of gaze movement, thus making a BCI depending on visual input no longer feasible. In an effort to render the ERP–BCI usable for this group of patients, the ERP–BCI was adapted to auditory stimulation. Letters of the alphabet were assigned to cells in a 5 × 5 matrix. Rows of the matrix were coded with numbers 1 to 5, and columns with numbers 6 to 10, and the numbers were presented auditorily. To select a letter, users had to first select the row and then the column containing the desired letter. Four severely paralyzed patients in the end‐stage of a neurodegenerative disease were examined. All patients performed above chance level. Spelling accuracy was significantly lower with the auditory system as compared with a similar visual system. Patients reported difficulties in concentrating on the task when presented with the auditory system. In future studies, the auditory ERP–BCI should be adjusted by taking into consideration specific features of severely paralyzed patients, such as reduced attention span. This adjustment in combination with more intensive training will show whether an auditory ERP–BCI can become an option for visually impaired patients.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisorders of Consciousness
Place of PublicationBoston, MA
PublisherNew York Academy of Sciences
ISBN (Print)978-1-57331-743-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event87th Annual Conference of the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, 2007: Disorders of Consciousness - New York Academy of Medicine, New York, United States
Duration: 7 Dec 20078 Dec 2007
Conference number: 87

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
PublisherNew York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923


Conference87th Annual Conference of the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease, 2007
CountryUnited States
CityNew York


  • Locked-in syndrome
  • Brain-computer interface
  • Event-related potentials
  • P300
  • Auditory
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Communication

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