July 28, 2021

They manage to convert brain signals into speech

They manage to convert brain signals into speech


Neuroengineers from Columbia University, in New York (USA), have created a system that translates thoughts into an intelligible and recognizable discourse, which could mean new ways for computers to communicate directly with the brain, according to a research now known.

By monitoring someone's brain activity, technology can recreate the words that a person can listen with unprecedented clarity, informs Efe.

This breakthrough, which harnesses the power of voice synthesizers and artificial intelligence, lays the foundation for people who can not speak, such as those living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or recovering from a stroke, regain the ability to communicate with the outside world.

"Our voice helps us to connect with our friends, family and the world around us, so losing the power of voice due to an injury or illness is so devastating," said Nima Mesgarani, principal investigator in the Cerebral Mental Behavior Institute Mortimer B. Zuckerman from Columbia University.

The expert considered that they have demonstrated that, "with the correct technology, the thoughts of these people can be deciphered and understood by any other listener".

Decades of research have shown that when people talk and even imagine themselves talking, revealing patterns of activity appear in their brain.

A different pattern of signals also appears when we hear someone talking or imagine that we are listening.

The team of researchers resorted to a "vocoder", a computerized algorithm that can synthesize words after receiving training in recordings of people who speak.

"This is the same technology used by Amazon Echo and Siri from Apple that gives verbal answers to our questions, "explained Mesgarani.

To teach the "vocoder" to interpret brain activity, Mesgarani teamed up with Ashesh Dinesh Mehta, a neurosurgeon at the Northwell Health Physician Partners Neuroscience Institute, who treats patients with epilepsy, some of whom must undergo regular brain surgery.

"Working with Dr. Mehta, we asked epileptic patients who had already undergone brain surgery to listen to the sentences spoken by different people while measuring brain activity patterns," said Mesgarani, who noted that these neural patterns trained the "vocoder" »

The team plans to test the most complicated words and phrases later and even aspires to have their system be part of an implant similar to those used with some patients with epilepsy who translate the user's thoughts directly into words.

"This it would give someone who has lost his ability to speak, whether due to injury or illness, a new opportunity to connect with the world », he added. EFE

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