Inbox: Invasive vs. Noninvasive Brain Interface In "Unchained Mind" (January 2013), Guenther and Brumberg make inappropriate claims that invasive brain-computer interface technologies, requiring surgical implantation of an electrode array, have greater potential to meet the expressive communication needs of patients than noninvasive BCI technologies (electrode array worn on the scalp). By definition, BCI electrode arrays are ... Inbox
Inbox  |   March 01, 2013
Inbox: Invasive vs. Noninvasive Brain Interface
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Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Special Populations / Professional Issues & Training / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Inbox
Inbox   |   March 01, 2013
Inbox: Invasive vs. Noninvasive Brain Interface
The ASHA Leader, March 2013, Vol. 18, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.IN5.18032013.5
The ASHA Leader, March 2013, Vol. 18, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.IN5.18032013.5
In "Unchained Mind" (January 2013), Guenther and Brumberg make inappropriate claims that invasive brain-computer interface technologies, requiring surgical implantation of an electrode array, have greater potential to meet the expressive communication needs of patients than noninvasive BCI technologies (electrode array worn on the scalp).
By definition, BCI electrode arrays are nothing more than control interfaces, or secondary device features used to access the language content of a full, high-performance augmentative and alternative communication system. They serve the same purpose as switches. Although invasive BCI technology may eventually increase selection rate and accuracy, both methods can be used to investigate interface components experimentally and provide evidence to support the design of primary language components of a full AAC system.
The authors demonstrate use of invasive BCI technologies to produce isolated phonemes with a speech synthesizer. Extensive work is needed before "the technologies needed for restoring near-conversational speech" are truly in place.
In our ongoing VA study, veterans with late-stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are independently using noninvasive BCI2000 systems with P300 spellers in their home environments for communication, e-mail and Internet access. Several participants consistently generate spontaneous novel utterances using noninvasive BCI systems. Comparable data on the language performance of people using invasive BCI technologies do not exist to justify the authors' claims. We believe that the BCI2000 being implemented by the Wadsworth Center and Huggins (University of Michigan) are the only BCI systems with a built-in language activity monitor for collecting language samples to measure the communication performance of BCI users.
Katya Hill
Thomas Kovacs
Sangeun Shin
The writers are associated with the AAC Performance and Testing Teaching Lab at the University of Pittsburgh.
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March 2013
Volume 18, Issue 3