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ICYMI: Mind-Reading Device Helps a Paralyzed Man Speak

  • Published4 Aug 2021
  • Author Alexis Wnuk
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN
Speech bubbles with text on a computer screen
iStock.com/alengo

A brain-machine interface device enabled a paralyzed man to speak for the first time in 18 years, researchers reported July 15 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The 38-year-old man suffered a devastating stroke at age 20 that left him unable to move or speak. But researchers hoped they could tap into the electrical signaling in areas of his brain involved in speech production. If the areas were still functional, they could, perhaps, eavesdrop on them while the man thought about speaking. By implanting an array of electrodes into the man’s sensorimotor cortex, the team recorded the brain’s signals as he imagined speaking different words. Then, they trained an artificial intelligence algorithm to decode the unique patterns of electrical activity and recognize individual words, which then popped up on a computer screen. The AI got it right half the time and enabled the man to communicate around 15 words per minute.

Related: Brain-Machine Interfaces: Converting Thoughts Into Action

Read more: Tapping Into the Brain to Help a Paralyzed Man Speak. The New York Times

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