Brain-computer interfaces for augmentative and alternative communication: A tutorial


Purpose: Brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) have the potential to improve communication for people who require but are unable to use traditional augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. As BCIs move toward clinical practice, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) will need to consider their appropriateness for AAC intervention.

Method: This tutorial provides a background on BCI approaches to provide AAC specialists foundational knowledge necessary for clinical application of BCI. Tutorial descriptions were generated based on a literature review of BCIs for restoring communication.

Results: The tutorial responses directly address 4 major areas of interest for SLPs who specialize in AAC: (a) the current state of BCI with emphasis on SLP scope of practice (including the subareas: the way in which individuals access AAC with BCI, the efficacy of BCI for AAC, and the effects of fatigue), (b) populations for whom BCI is best suited, (c) the future of BCI as an addition to AAC access strategies, and (d) limitations of BCI.

Conclusion: Current BCIs have been designed as access methods for AAC rather than a replacement; therefore, SLPs can use existing knowledge in AAC as a starting point for clinical application. Additional training is recommended to stay updated with rapid advances in BCI.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

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American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology