Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Published in Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups 4:6 (December 2019).

doi 10.1044/2019_PERS-19-00059


Copyright © 2019 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Used by permission.


Purpose: Brain–computer interface (BCI) techniques may provide computer access for individuals with severe physical impairments. However, the relatively hidden nature of BCI control obscures how BCI systems work behind the scenes, making it difficult to understand “how” electroencephalography (EEG) records the BCIrelated brain signals, “what” brain signals are recorded by EEG, and “why” these signals are targeted for BCI control. Furthermore, in the field of speech-languagehearing, signals targeted for BCI application have been of primary interest to clinicians and researchers in the area of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). However, signals utilized for BCI control reflect sensory, cognitive, and motor processes, which are of interest to a range of related disciplines, including speech science.

Method: This tutorial was developed by a multidisciplinary team emphasizing primary and secondary BCI-AAC–related signals of interest to speech-language-hearing.

Results: An overview of BCI-AAC–related signals are provided discussing (a) “how” BCI signals are recorded via EEG; (b) “what” signals are targeted for noninvasive BCI control, including the P300, sensorimotor rhythms, steady-state evoked potentials, contingent negative variation, and the N400; and (c) “why” these signals are targeted. During tutorial creation, attention was given to help support EEG and BCI understanding for those without an engineering background.

Conclusion: Tutorials highlighting how BCI-AAC signals are elicited and recorded can help increase interest and familiarity with EEG and BCI techniques and provide a framework for understanding key principles behind BCIAAC design and implementation.