Brain-Computer interfaces for communication: preferences of individuals with locked-in syndrome, caregivers and researchers

Mariana P. Branco, Elmar G.M. Pels, Femke Nijboer, Nick F. Ramsey*, Mariska J. Vansteensel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: The development of Brain-Computer Interfaces to restore communication (cBCIs) in people with severe motor impairment ideally relies on a close collaboration between end-users and other stakeholders, such as caregivers and researchers. Awareness about potential differences in opinion between these groups is crucial for development of usable cBCIs and access technology (AT) in general. In this study, we compared the opinions of prospective cBCI users, their caregivers and cBCI researchers regarding: (1) what applications would users like to control with a cBCI; (2) what mental strategies would users prefer to use for cBCI control; and (3) at what stage of their clinical trajectory would users like to be informed about AT and cBCIs.

Methods: We collected data from 28 individuals with locked-in syndrome, 29 of their caregivers and 28 cBCI researchers. The questionnaire was supported with animation videos to explain different cBCI concepts, the utility of which was also assessed.

Results: Opinions of the three groups were aligned with respect to the most desired cBCI applications, but diverged regarding mental strategies and the timing of being informed about cBCIs. Animation videos were regarded as clear and useful tools to explain cBCIs and mental strategies to end-users and other stakeholders.

Conclusions: Disagreements were clear between stakeholders regarding which mental strategies users prefer to use and when they would like to be informed about cBCIs. To move forward in the development and clinical implementation of cBCIs, it will be necessary to align the research agendas with the needs of the end-users and caregivers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-973
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and rehabilitation: assistive technology
Issue number6
Early online date12 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Brain-computer interface
  • Caregivers
  • Communication
  • Locked-in syndrome
  • Researchers
  • User-centred design
  • 2024 OA procedure


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