DECODER will develop BCIs into single-switch based systems to practically enhance inclusion of patients who are otherwise only little or not at all able to interact with their environment and share Interface Computer Technologies (ICT).
Through the deployment of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) for non-responsive patients DECODER will provide access to modern information and communication technology such as internet, personal computer or home appliances when only a single response of a person is available.
In this extreme case, no current assistive technology can help the patient interact with the environment. This situation poses serious ethical issues, since medical treatment can prolong the patients life, but leave them in a state of unacceptable quality of life.
This achievement will move on from the improvement of three components of state-of-the-art BCIs (signal acquisition (input), signal classification and signal translation (output)) and adapt them to the specificities of non-responsive patients such as low arousal, short attention span, and altered electrical activity of the brain.
A fourth component of the project is the application. Therefore, existing assistive technology will be adapted to a single-switch control. Besides classic EEG paradigms, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) will be used for signal acquisition due to its higher spatial resolution. Potential and automated software will identify the best signal for each user and will optimize signal translation.
Prior to providing such patients with ICT, an unequivocal diagnosis is of utmost importance to define the most appropriate rehabilitation strategy and most suitable supportive technology for interaction. A hierarchical diagnostic approach starting with simple presentation of stimuli to intentional control of BCI will be developed, validated and disseminated.
DECODER aims to develop a battery that guarantees an exact diagnostic of the patients state of consciouness and can be easily integrated into the daily clinical routine, and a ssBCI that can be very easily used as well by the patient even in a minimal conciousness state on the behalf of the own cerebral activity, and any person caring for or surrounding the patient.
Therefore, evaluation, individual adaptation and at least dissemination are essential issues of DECODER as it should be used by a large mass of people.