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The following summary appeared in a paper in PLOS Biology.
“Despite scientific and technological advances, communication has remained impossible for persons suffering from complete motor paralysis but intact cognitive and emotional processing, a condition that is called completely locked-in state. Brain-computer interfaces based on neuroelectrical technology (like an electroencephalogram) have failed at providing patients in a completely locked-in state with means to communicate. Therefore, here we explored if a brain-computer interface based on functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)—which measures brain hemodynamic responses associated with neuronal activity—could overcome this barrier. Four patients suffering from advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), two of them in permanent completely locked-in state and two entering the completely locked-in state without reliable means of communication, learned to answer personal questions with known answers and open questions requiring a “yes” or “no” by using frontocentral oxygenation changes measured with fNIRS. These results are, potentially, the first step towards abolition of completely locked-in states, at least for patients with ALS.”
Write a brief summary (3-4 sentences) of this research for a lay audience. (Do not simply edit or paraphrase the original; write a new summary as you would for a news article.)
For those not familiar with functional near infrared spectroscopy, you may want to read more about it here: https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-functional-optical-brain-imaging/