Mind-reader to convert thoughts into speech

Researchers were able to render brain signals into speech for the first time, relying on sensors attached to the brain surface. The breakthrough, which is up to 90 per cent accurate, will be a boon for paralysed patients who cannot speak and could help read anyone’s thoughts ultimately.

“We were beside ourselves with excitement when it started working,” said Prof Bradley Greger, bioengineer at Utah University who led the project. “We have been able to decode spoken words using only signals from the brain with a device that has promise for long-term use in paralysed patients who cannot speak.

“We hope that in two or three years it will be available for use for paralysed patients.”
The breakthrough came when the team attached two button-sized grids of 16 tiny electrodes to an epileptic’s brain’s speech centres.

The patient had part of his skull removed for another operation to treat his condition.
The scientists recorded brain signals in a computer as the patient read each of 10 words that might be useful to a paralysed person: yes, no, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, hello, goodbye, more and less. Then they got him to repeat the words to the computer and it was able to match the brain signals for each word.

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