The Diving Bell And The Butterfly

Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline, MA


Dr. Frank Guenther

Professor of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, Boston University

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly— The Development of Brain-Machine Interfaces

A discussion of the development of brain-machine interfaces regarding Locked-In Syndrome.

Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline, MA

Film Synopsis

The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.

Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric), editor-in-chief of French fashion magazine Elle, has a devastating stroke at age 43. The damage to his brain stem results in locked-in syndrome, with which he is almost completely paralyzed and only able to communicate by blinking an eye. Bauby painstakingly dictates his memoir via the only means of expression left to him. Though trapped in his body, Bauby is still able to escape his "diving bell" by letting his imagination take flight like a butterfly. Artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel won the Best Director award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival for this fiercely beautiful, quietly moving adaptation of Jean-Dominique Bauby's remarkable memoir.

About the Speaker

Dr. Frank Guenther is a professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences at Boston University. Dr. Guenther uses brain imaging and computational modeling to represent the brain networks involved in speech, and develops brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) that can restore speech and other capabilities to patients with locked-in syndrome. BMIs have produced astonishing laboratory demonstrations of locked-in patients controlling computers, speech synthesizers, and robotic arms using only their thoughts. Clinical trials are ongoing for several BMIs, promising a much more normal life for those with locked-in syndrome as these devices become widely available.