LIS or Locked In Syndrome is a condition in which a person is fully conscious and aware of their environment, but cannot command any of their muscles to obey them. No visible movement, often no eye movement either, means they are 'locked in', unable to interact with the world, unable to even tell others they are conscious.
It is possible to tell a sufferer of LIS is conscious by scanning their brainwaves with an EEG or ECoG system. The brainwave patterns will be high on alpha wave patterns and low on theta wave patterns, indicating the person is awake and aware.
The drive to communicate with LIS individuals, and restore some degree of independence, is what has driven the quest to reverse-engineer the neural codes the brain uses to communicate with the muscles, and the neural codes of thought itself. If the body does not respond to the brain, then so long as we can use a brain-computer interface to understand what the brain is trying to say, artificial body parts can be hooked up to the person to allow them to move, and computers can be programmed to respond to their thoughts.
LIS individuals are perhaps the most likely to benefit immensely from a full-body VR environment, as an avatar body lacks the bulk and cost of a prosthetic one, and can respond to the same signals. By reverse-engineering the neural codes the brain uses to communicate with the muscles of the body, the avatar form then becomes as responsive and as natural as the individual's original body.
Obviously, LIS individuals aren't the only ones to benefit from the technologies and interface methods gained by reverse engineering the coding of the brain, but they are a driving force in moving such methods forwards. To the point that simplistic interfaces are already a reality.
See Also: Neural Code, Smart Prosthetic, Brain Computer Interface, Brain Machine Interface, Visage, Embodiment, EEG, ECoG, EMG, Brainwaves
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