Psychological Research

, Volume 76, Issue 2, pp 183–191 | Cite as

Ideomotor silence: the case of complete paralysis and brain–computer interfaces (BCI)

  • Niels Birbaumer
  • Francesco Piccione
  • Stefano Silvoni
  • Moritz WildgruberEmail author


The paper presents some speculations on the loss of voluntary responses and operant learning in long-term paralysis in human patients and curarized rats. Based on a reformulation of the ideomotor thinking hypothesis already described in the 19th century, we present evidence that instrumentally learned responses and intentional cognitive processes extinguish as a consequence of long-term complete paralysis in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Preliminary data collected with ALS patients during extended and complete paralysis suggest semantic classical conditioning of brain activity as the only remaining communication possibility in those states.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Motor Imagery Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patient Complete Paralysis Neurofeedback Training 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels Birbaumer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francesco Piccione
    • 2
  • Stefano Silvoni
    • 2
  • Moritz Wildgruber
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral NeurobiologyUniversity of TuebingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Ospedale San Camillo, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere ScientificoVenezia LidoItaly
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyKlinikum Rechts der Isar, Technische Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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