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OHSU scientists present groundbreaking device that allows communication through brain waves

‘Brain computer interface’ in development, may lead to new ways for people with disabilities to communicate


Demonstration of a cutting edge “brain computer interface” project being developed by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University.

The project is being developed to allow people with “locked in syndrome” – people who are paralyzed and have no means of generating written or spoken messages – to communicate through their brain waves. The demonstration will include an actual user of the device and a partner in its development – a Portland man who was severely disabled from a stroke 16 years ago. Wearing a special fitted cap (like a shower cap) with electrodes, his brain selects a pre-determined letter on a screen, without him consciously doing anything.

The project will be demonstrated at the 49th annual national meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics.


The OHSU BCI demonstration will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, June 21. (The conference runs from June 19-24.)


Columbia/Willamette Rooms, at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront, 1401 S.W. Naito Parkway, Portland, Ore.


The OHSU BCI device and project is unique in that the device is non-invasive – it doesn’t require electrodes to be implanted. And it doesn’t require the user to do things like roll his eyes or blink, or perform any other action to create the communication. The electrodes within the skullcap detect brain activity changes within the user.

The project, still in development and supported by a five-year National Institutes of Health grant, could lead to entirely new and more efficient ways for people with disabilities to communicate with the outside world.

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