Psychosocial and ethical aspects in non-invasive EEG-based BCI research - A survey among BCI users and BCI professionals

Gerd Grübler, Abdul Al-Khodairy, Robert Leeb, Iolanda Pisotta, Angela Riccio, Martin Rohm, Elisabeth Hildt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, the results of a pilot interview study with 19 subjects participating in an EEG-based non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) research study on stroke rehabilitation and assistive technology and of a survey among 17 BCI professionals are presented and discussed in the light of ethical, legal, and social issues in research with human subjects. Most of the users were content with study participation and felt well informed. Negative aspects reported include the long and cumbersome preparation procedure, discomfort with the cap and the wet electrodes, problems concerning BCI control, and strains during the training sessions. In addition, some users reflected on issues concerning system security. When asked for morally problematic issues in this field of non-invasive BCI research, the BCI professionals stressed the need for correct information transfer, the obligation to avoid unrealistic expectations in study participants, the selection of study participants, benefits and strains of participation, BCI illiteracy, the possibility of detrimental brain modifications induced by BCI use, and problems that may arise at the end of the trials. Furthermore, privacy issues were raised. Based on the results obtained, psychosocial and ethical aspects of EEG-based non-invasive BCI research are discussed and possible implications for future research addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Brain-computer interface (BCI)
  • Ethics
  • Human subjects
  • Informed consent
  • Research
  • Risks and benefits
  • User-centered approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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