Brain-computer interface with language model-electroencephalography fusion for locked-in syndrome

Barry S. Oken, Umut Orhan, Brian Roark, Deniz Erdogmus, Andrew Fowler, Aimee Mooney, Betts Peters, Meghan Miller, Melanie B. Fried-Oken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background. Some noninvasive brain-computer interface (BCI) systems are currently available for locked-in syndrome (LIS) but none have incorporated a statistical language model during text generation. Objective. To begin to address the communication needs of individuals with LIS using a noninvasive BCI that involves rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) of symbols and a unique classifier with electroencephalography (EEG) and language model fusion. Methods. The RSVP Keyboard was developed with several unique features. Individual letters are presented at 2.5 per second. Computer classification of letters as targets or nontargets based on EEG is performed using machine learning that incorporates a language model for letter prediction via Bayesian fusion enabling targets to be presented only 1 to 4 times. Nine participants with LIS and 9 healthy controls were enrolled. After screening, subjects first calibrated the system, and then completed a series of balanced word generation mastery tasks that were designed with 5 incremental levels of difficulty, which increased by selecting phrases for which the utility of the language model decreased naturally. Results. Six participants with LIS and 9 controls completed the experiment. All LIS participants successfully mastered spelling at level 1 and one subject achieved level 5. Six of 9 control participants achieved level 5. Conclusions. Individuals who have incomplete LIS may benefit from an EEG-based BCI system, which relies on EEG classification and a statistical language model. Steps to further improve the system are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2014


  • brain-computer interface
  • electroencephalography (EEG)
  • language model
  • locked-in syndrome
  • neuroengineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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