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Progress in medical science now enables people with severe paralysis to live for many years.  Many of these individuals have great difficulty communicating.  Some may even be entirely “locked in” to their bodies:  their minds are functioning perfectly, but they cannot move a single muscle to communicate in any way.  The capacity for simple communication could greatly improve the quality of their lives.

The Laboratory of Neural Injury and Repair at Wadsworth Center has solved this problem by developing a new generation of brain-based communication interface (BCI) that can provide communication and control functions for people who have lost muscle control. By recording brain waves from the scalp and then decoding them, the system can allow people to operate a personal computer and software, access the internet, generate speech, operate environmental controls, control robotic assistive devices and more.

Visit the lab’s web site to learn more about their research and its clinical application:

See the technology on “60 Minutes” 

To learn about licensing BCI technology for commercial applications contact:

Robert Gallo
Director- Intellectual Property & Licensing
Phone 518-431-1208

Clinical Importance:

Certain patients with late stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), high level spinal cord injury, stroke/aphasia, autism, severe cerebral palsy, or multiple disabilities may be unable to utilize even minimal single-switch systems operated by movement such as eye-blink, or breath. The multichannel EEG-based interface allows them to operate a personal computer and both off the shelf and custom applications thereby extending their ability to communicate and perform tasks autonomously.

State of Development

  • In use throughout the world by research institutions
  • In clinical trials at Helen Hayes Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in New York.
  • Federal Drug Administration (FDA) 510K application pending.
  • USPTO patent #5,638,826
  • Numerous publications – biography below

Licensing and Collaboration

HRI is seeking commercial partners to create medical and rehabilitative devices based on our BCI platform that could enable speech, use of the internet e.g. e-mailing, gaming, Facebook, tweeting, and devices that allow movement of robotic hands and arms, home automation software systems that turn on/off lights, adjust thermostats and change television channels.


  • Medical treatment – speech, mobility i.e. robotic limbs, wheelchair movement
  • Clinical neurology, neurosurgery and neuropsychology as well as neuroscience research
  • Gaming
  • Internet – email, tweeting, Facebook
  • Military use – e.g. silent communication with troops


  • Can restore communication to severely paralyzed people
  • Better quality of life by enabling autonomy
  • No muscle control necessary
  • Personalized calibration to each individual user’s EEG


Wolpaw, J.R., Wolpaw, E.W. – “Brain Computer Interfaces:  principles and practice”.  January 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-538885-5.

Miller, K.J., Schalk, G., Fetz, E.E., Nijs, M. D, Ojemann, J., Rao, R.P.N. “Cortical activity during motor execution, motor imagery, and imagery-based online feedback (2010)” Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America, vol. 107, pp.4430-4435 (2010)

McFarland, D.J., Sarnacki, W.A., Wolpaw, J.R. “Electroencephalographic (EEG) control of three-dimensional movement (2010)” Journal of Neural Engineering, vol. 7 (2010)

Fruitet, J., McFarland, D.J., Wolpaw, J.R. “A comparison of regression techniques for a two-dimensional sensorimotor rhythm-based brain-conputer interface (2010)” Journal of Neural Engineering, vol. 7 (2010)

Roland, J., Brunner, P., Johnston, J., Schalk, G., Leuthardt, E.C. “Passive real-time identification of speech and motor cortex during an awake craniotomy (2010)” Epilepsy and Behavior, vol. 18, pp.123-128 (2010)

Townsend, G., LaPallo, B.K., Boulay, C.B., Krusienski, D.J., Frye, G.E., Hauser, C.K., Schwartz, N.E., Vaughan, T.M., Wolpaw, J.R., Sellers, E.W. “A novel P300-based brain-computer interface stimulus presentation paradigm: Moving beyond rows and columns (2010)” Clinical Neurophysiology, vol. 121, pp.1109-1120 (2010)

Wu, M., Wisneski, K., Schalk, Gerwin., Sharma, M., Roland, J., Breshears, J., Gaona, C., Leuthardt, E.C. “Electrocorticographic Frequency Alteration Mapping for Extraoperative Localization of Speech Cortex (2010)” Neurosurgery, vol. 66 (2010)

Wilson, J.A, Jurgen, M., Schalk, G., Williams, J. “A Procedure for Measuring Latencies in Brain-Computer Interfaces (2010)” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 57, pp.1785-1797 (2010)

Miller, K.J., Leuthardt, E.C., Schalk, G., Rao, R.P.N., Anderson, N., Moran, D.W., Ojemann, J.G. Spectral changes in cortical surface potentials during motor movement. Journal of Neuroscience, 2007, 27(9):2424-32, PubMed.

Blankertz, B. Mueller, K.R., Krusienski, D., Schalk, G., Wolpaw, J.R., Schloegl, A., Pfurtscheller, G. Millan, J.R., Schroeder, M., Birbaumer, N. The BCI Competition III: Validating Alternative Approaches to Actual BCI Problems. IEEE Trans Neur Sys Rehab Eng, 14(2):153-159, 2006, PubMed.

Leuthardt, E.C., Miller, K., Schalk, G., Rao, R.N., Ojemann, J.G. Electrocorticography-Based Brain Computer Interface – The Seattle Experience. IEEE Trans Neur Sys Rehab Eng, 14(2):194-198, 2006, PubMed.

Krusienski, D.J., Schalk, G., McFarland, D.J., and Wolpaw, J.R. A µ-rhythm Matched Filter for Continuous Control of a Brain-Computer Interface. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng, 54(2):273-280, 2006, PubMed.

Wilson, J.A., Felton, E.A., Garell, P.C., Schalk, G., Williams, J.C. ECoG factors underlying multimodal control of a brain-computer interface. IEEE Trans Neur Sys Rehab Eng, 14(2):246-250, 2006, PubMed.

Cincotti, F., Bianchi, L., Birch, G., Guger, C., Mellinger, J., Scherer, R., Schmidt, R.N., Suárez, O.Y., Schalk, G. BCI Meeting 2005 – Workshop on Technology: Hardware and Software. IEEE Trans Neur Sys Rehab Eng, 14(2):128-131, 2006, PubMed.

Vaughan, T.M., McFarland, D.J., Schalk, G., Sarnacki, W.A., Krusienski, D.J., Sellers, E.W., Wolpaw, J.R. The Wadsworth BCI Research and Development Program: At Home With BCI. IEEE Trans Neur Sys Rehab Eng, 14(2):229-233, 2006, PubMed.

Leuthardt, E.C., Schalk, G., Moran, D.W., Ojemann, J.G. The Emerging World of Neuroprosthetics: A Neurosurgical Perspective. Neurosurgery, 59(1):1-14, July 2006, PubMed.

Kuebler, A., Nijboer, F., Mellinger, J., Vaughan, T. M., Pawelzik, H., Schalk, G., McFarland, D. J., Birbaumer, N., Wolpaw, J. R. Patients with ALS can use sensorimotor rhythms to operate a brain-computer interface. Neurology, 64(10):1775-1777, 2005, PubMed.

Schalk, G., McFarland, D.J., Hinterberger, T., Birbaumer, N., Wolpaw, J.R. BCI2000: A General-Purpose Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) System. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 51(6):1034-1043, 2004, PubMed.

Blankertz, B., Mueller, K.R., Curio, G., Vaughan, T.M., Schalk, G., Wolpaw, J.R., Schloegl, A., Neuper, C., Pfurtscheller, G., Hinterberger, T., Schroeder, M., Birbaumer, N. The BCI Competition 2003: Progress and Perspectives in Detection and Discrimination of EEG Single Trials. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 51(6):1044-1051, 2004, PubMed.

Leuthardt, E.C., Schalk, G., Wolpaw, J.R., Ojemann, J.G., Moran, D.W. A Brain-Computer Interface Using Electrocorticographic Signals in Humans. Journal of Neural Engineering, 1:63-71, 2004. (Paper rated “Exceptional” by Faculty of 1000; a rating that represents the top 1% of all publications). PubMed.

Mellinger, J., Nijboer, F., Pawelzik, H., Schalk, G., McFarland, D.J., Vaughan, T.M., Wolpaw, J.R., Birbaumer, B., Kuebler, A. P300 for communication: Evidence from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Biomedizinische Technik, 49(1):71-74, 2004.

Wolpaw, J.R., McFarland, D.J., Vaughan, T.M., Schalk, G. The Wadsworth Center brain-computer interface (BCI) research and development program. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems & Rehabilitation Engineering. 11(2):204-7, 2003, PubMed.

Schalk, G., Carp, J.S., Wolpaw, J.R. Temporal transformation of multiunit activity improves identification of single motor units. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 114(1):87-98, 2002, PubMed.

Wolpaw, J.R., Birbaumer, N., Heetderks, W.J., McFarland, D.J., Peckham, P.H., Schalk, G., Donchin, E., Quatrano, L.A., Robinson, C.J., Vaughan, T.M. Brain-computer interface technology: a review of the first international meeting. IEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering, 8:164-173, 2000, PubMed.

Schalk, G., Wolpaw, J.R., McFarland, D.J. and Pfurtscheller, G. EEG-based communication: presence of an error potential. Clinical Neurophysiology, 111:2138-2144, 2000, PubMed.