A recent research study could give a voice to those who no longer have one. Scientists used electrodes and artificial intelligence to create a device that can translate brain signals into speech. This technology could help restore the ability to speak in people with brain injuries or those with neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Alzheimer disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and more. The new system being developed in the laboratory of Edward Chang, MD shows that it is possible to create a synthesized version of a person's voice that can be controlled by the activity of their brain's speech centers. In the future, this approach could not only restore fluent communication to individuals with a severe speech disability, the authors say, but could also reproduce some of the musicality of the human voice that conveys the speaker's emotions and personality.
For many people who are paralyzed and unable to speak, signals of what they'd like to say hide in their brains. No one has been able to decipher those signals directly. But three research teams recently made progress in turning data from electrodes surgically placed on the brain into computer-generated speech. These teams haven't yet managed to re-create speech that people merely imagine. But by monitoring parts of the brain as participants either read aloud, silently mouthed speech, or listened to recordings, the researchers were able to use computational models called neural networks to reconstruct words and sentences that were close enough, in some cases, to be intelligible to human listeners.
That's the aim of a device that could help people control robotic limbs using thought alone – without the need for brain surgery. The device will be trialled in people with paralysis next year. Several groups are developing brain-machine interfaces that allow people who are paralysed to operate a bionic exoskeleton just by thinking about it. These devices decode electrical brain signals and translate them into movement of robotic limbs. Usually, brain signals are detected via electrodes attached to the scalp or implanted directly in the brain.
This is an Inside Science story. A man paralyzed below the neck can imagine writing by hand and, with the help of artificial intelligence software, use electronics hooked up to his brain to translate his mental handwriting into words at speeds comparable to typing on a smartphone, a new study finds. By helping convert thoughts into actions, brain-computer interfaces can help people move or speak. Recently, scientists have sought to help people with disabilities communicate by using these mind-machine interfaces to move a cursor on a screen to point and click on letters on a keyboard. The previous speed record for typing with such devices was about 40 characters per minute.
Scientists have created a mind-controlled robotic arm that is powered only by a person's thoughts. Incredible footage shows someone using the pioneering device to follow a white spot around a computer screen. The person using the technology, considered the first of its kind, controlled it using only pads attached on the outside of their head. In the past, the technology has only worked when connected to sensors inside the skull with direct connections to the brain. But the non-invasive way of connecting the mind to extra limbs could pave the way for pioneering technology to help paralysed people and amputees.