Semantic and BCI-performance in completely paralyzed patients: Possibility of language attrition in completely locked in syndrome.


Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany; Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic address: [Email]


Patients with completely locked-in syndrome (CLIS) are incapable of any voluntary muscle movement and do not have any means of communication. Recently functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) based brain computer interface (BCI) has been successfully used to enable communication with these patients. The developed fNIRS-BCI system relies on the intactness of language comprehension in these patients in all dimensions of language. Interwoven language and motor cortex in brain, and lack of muscular activity in long run, can cause language attrition due to complete immobility in CLIS patients. In this study we have investigated effects of semantic content of sentences presented to a CLIS patient on the performance of the BCI system during a YES/NO paradigm. Comparison of communication success rate in BCI classification between different semantic categories indicate that semantic content of sentences presented to a CLIS patient can affect the BCI performance. Affected concepts are mostly associated with executive words. These findings can be beneficial towards development of more reliable communication device for patients in CLIS. In addition, these results may assist in elucidating the cognitive changes in completely paralyzed patients with the passage of time since the onset of total immovability.


Brain computer interface,Completely locked-in syndrome,Embodied cognition,Language comprehension,