In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed and speechless, with only the ability to blink his left eyelid. Using just that eye, he silently dictated his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, later adapted into a film.
Bauby suffered from “locked-in syndrome,” in which patients are completely paralyzed except for some eye movement. Some patients eventually lose even the ability to blink, cutting off all contact with the world and raising questions of whether they are still fully conscious and, if so, whether they still wish to live.
Now researchers in Europe say they’ve found out the answer after using a brain-computer interface to communicate with four people completely locked in after losing all voluntary movement due to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.