Brain Implant Device: People Can Communicate With Their Minds

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Brain Implant Device Allows People With Speech Impairments to Communicate With Their Minds

by Maddie Burakoff Smithsonian.com

With advances in electronics and neuroscience, researchers have been able to achieve remarkable things with brain implant devices, such as restoring a semblance of sight to the blind. In addition to restoring physical senses, scientists are also seeking innovative ways to facilitate communication for those who have lost the ability to speak. A new “decoder” receiving data from electrodes implanted inside the skull, for example, might help paralyzed patients speak using only their minds.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) developed a two-stage method to turn brain signals into computer-synthesized speech. Their results, published this week in scientific journal Nature, provide a possible path toward more fluid communication for people who have lost the ability to speak.



For years, scientists have been trying to harness neural inputs to give a voice back to people whose neurological damage prevents them from talking—like stroke survivors or ALS patients. Until now, many of these brain-computer interfaces have featured a letter-by-letter approach, in which patients move their eyes or facial muscles to spell out their thoughts. (Stephen Hawking famously directed his speech synthesizer through small movements in his cheek.)

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4 COMMENTS

    • Harry, The brain is the center for interpretation of sight, hearing, etc. Electrodes would be placed into the skull and these would be used to help someone communicate with just their thoughts. Instead of picking out letters to form words, say on a computer using eye movements which is commonly done (but takes a long time and can be frustrating for both the person “talking” and the receiver of the information. Brain signals are turned into computer synthesized voices. The brain in most diseases is still intact enough to receive stimulation but that stimulation will not go as far as being able to move the mouth. They know what they want to say but do not have the ability to physically speak. Using the chip will connect the thoughts to a form of communication and give a person back his or her ability to communicate in real time so to speak.

    • Yes, and no device is necessary though for some it may be a good aid. If what has been known for millennia is allowed to be taught then they will be unnecessary.
      Without a device leaves choice on the receiver, while with a device encourages intrusion. Without a device is less effective, but effectiveness in this case is simply yelling. For the handicapped, it is an acceptable aid.
      The value is applicable during a transition, not after.

      The better question is, why is it most do not ? What changed ?

    • We learn to develope different pathways to accomplish same things as well. I know I have to accomodate Meniere’s. Make your brain work and accomplish what you want it to do.

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