Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Building communication neurotechnology for high stakes communications

When designing neurotechnologies to assist people with communication disabilities, neuroscientists and engineers must consider both the speaker’s perspective and the listeners’ ability to judge the voluntariness and accuracy of decoded communication. This is particularly important in personally significant communication contexts for which there are profound legal and societal implications.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Pandarinath, C. et al. High performance communication by people with paralysis using an intracortical brain–computer interface. eLife 6, e18554 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Anumanchipalli, G. K., Chartier, J. & Chang, E. F. Speech synthesis from neural decoding of spoken sentences. Nature 568, 493–498 (2019).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Mugler, E. M. et al. Direct classification of all American English phonemes using signals from functional speech motor cortex. J. Neural Eng. 11, 035015 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Herff, C. et al. Generating natural, intelligible speech from brain activity in motor, premotor, and inferior frontal cortices. Front. Neurosci. 13, 1267 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Moses, D. A. et al. Real-time decoding of question-and-answer speech dialogue using human cortical activity. Nat Commun 10, 3096 (2019).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Makin, J. G., Moses, D. A. & Chang, E. F. Machine translation of cortical activity to text with an encoder-decoder framework. Nat. Neurosci. 23, 575–582 (2020).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Dash, D., Ferrari, P. & Wang, J. Decoding imagined and spoken phrases from non-invasive neural (MEG) signals. Front. Neurosci. 14, 290 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Martin, S. et al. in Brain-Computer Interface Research: A State-of-the-Art Summary 7 (eds Guger, C., Mrachacz-Kersting, N. & Allison, B. Z.) 83–91 (Springer, 2019).

  9. 9.

    Moses, D. A. et al. Neuroprosthesis for decoding speech in a paralyzed person with anarthria. New Engl. J. Med. 385, 217 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Kubler A., Nijboer, F. & Kleih S. in Brain Computer Interfaces Vol 168 (eds Ramsey, N. F. & del Millan, R.) 353–368 (Elsevier, 2020).

  11. 11.

    Han, C.-H., Müller, K.-R. & Hwang, H.-J. Brain-switches for asynchronous brain–computer interfaces: a systematic review. Electronics 9, 422 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Rainey, S. et al. Neuroprosthetic speech: the ethical significance of accuracy, control and pragmatics. Camb. Q. Healthc. Ethics 28, 657–670 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors gratefully acknowledge the comments of P. Wood on the use of communication neurotechnology in the context of living with late stage ALS. We also thank E. Snell (Snell Communications), T. Ladd (Cognixion) and the International Neuroethics Society for support for the workshop Breaking Through: Neurotechnology for High Consequence Communication and Decision-Making (Toronto, 2019) that inspired this Comment.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jennifer A. Chandler.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Related links


Brain/Neural Computer Interaction (BNCI) Horizon 2020 project:


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):

International Neuroethics Society:


Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chandler, J.A., Van der Loos, K.I., Boehnke, S.E. et al. Building communication neurotechnology for high stakes communications. Nat Rev Neurosci 22, 587–588 (2021).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing