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Kellmeyer, Philipp; Grosse-Wentrup, Moritz; Schulze-Bonhage, Andreas; Ziemann, Ulf; Ball, Tonio (2018): Electrophysiological correlates of neurodegeneration in motor and non-motor brain regions in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-implications for brain-computer interfacing. In: Journal of Neural Engineering, Vol. 15, No. 4, 41003
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Objective. For patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who are suffering from severe communication or motor problems, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) can improve the quality of life and patient autonomy. However, current BCI systems are not as widely used as their potential and patient demand would let assume. This underutilization is a result of technological as well as user-based limitations but also of the comparatively poor performance of currently existing BCIs in patients with late-stage ALS, particularly in the locked-in state. Approach. Here we review a broad range of electrophysiological studies in ALS patients with the aim to identify electrophysiological correlates of ALS-related neurodegeneration in motor and non-motor brain regions in to better understand potential neurophysiological limitations of current BCI systems for ALS patients. To this end we analyze studies in ALS patients that investigated basic sensory evoked potentials, resting-state and task-based paradigms using electroencephalography or electrocorticography for basic research purposes as well as for brain-computer interfacing. Main results and significance. Our review underscores that, similarly to mounting evidence from neuroimaging and neuropathology, electrophysiological measures too indicate neurodegeneration in non-motor areas in ALS. Furthermore, we identify an unexpected gap of basic and advanced electrophysiological studies in late-stage ALS patients, particularly in the locked-in state. We propose a research strategy on how to fill this gap in order to improve the design and performance of future BCI systems for this patient group.