Brain Implant Lets Man ‘Speak’ After Being Silent for More Than a Decade

A man who was unable to speak for more than a decade has regained his voice through a brain implant. The device is implanted in the patient’s brain, and it allows him to communicate by typing on a keyboard.

The high pay lots of openings no applicants wsj is a story about a man who had his brain implant turned back on after being silent for more than a decade.

California researchers said on Wednesday that they had successfully tested an experimental brain implant that converts brain impulses into text on a computer screen.

The breakthrough, which was detailed in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is a step toward technology that may one day allow individuals to communicate by thinking. It also gives thousands of individuals who lose their capacity to communicate each year due to accident or sickness a ray of hope.

Despite these restrictions, brain-computer interface technology—in which small electrical impulses from the brain are translated into movements in the real world like speaking, typing, or manipulating a computer cursor—remains in its infancy. Academic scientists and tech firms, including Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp., Kernel, and Facebook Inc., have all shown interest in the technology in recent years.

Facebook is a supporter of the new study and expressed interest in the creation of a noninvasive, wearable gadget that would enable individuals to write by thinking in a blog post.

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Ken Probst/UCSF/UCSF/UCSF/UCSF/UCSF/UCSF/UCSF/UCSF

To put their neuroprosthesis to the test, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco recruited the assistance of a guy in his 30s who had lost his ability to speak due to paralysis induced by a major stroke more than 15 years earlier. The guy consented to have a tiny rectangular array of electrodes surgically implanted to the outer surface of his brain. He now interacts by tapping out individual letters on a screen with a cap-worn pointer.

The researchers connected a computer to the array for 81 weeks and 50 sessions to monitor the man’s brain activity while he viewed individual words shown on a screen and imagined speaking them aloud. According to the researchers, they were able to correctly identify the word the guy was speaking 47 percent of the time.

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A trial session with the subject is conducted by Dr. David Moses, a postdoctoral scientist at the institution and a co-author of the new study.

UCSF/Todd Dubnicoff photo

When the scientists used word-prediction algorithms similar to the auto-suggest function in email and word-processing applications, the accuracy increased to 76 percent. The research was restricted to a vocabulary of 50 words, which is a small fraction of the many thousands of terms found in primary school kids’ vocabularies.

Dr. Eddie Chang, a neurosurgeon at the institution and the paper’s senior author, stated, “To our knowledge, this is the first effective example of direct decoding of complete sentences from the brain activity of someone who is paralyzed and cannot talk.” “By tapping into the brain’s inherent speech mechanism, it shows great potential in restoring communication.”

According to Amy Orsborn, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington who wasn’t involved in the study, the new research demonstrates that computers can be trained to interpret entire sentences from brain activity rather than simply letters.

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She believes that devices capable of doing so may one day help individuals who have lost their capacity to speak communicate more quickly. Many of these individuals, like the guy who participated in the current study, write out words letter by letter using assistive equipment.

However, according to Dr. Orsborn and other experts, the system’s high mistake rate, restricted vocabulary, and lengthy training period needed to teach the system to identify imagined words are among the reasons why such technology has a long way to go before becoming a viable gadget.

Other researchers have succeeded in translating brain impulses into computer text, but their efforts have mainly resulted in individual letters rather than whole sentences. While Dr. Chang and his colleagues have previously shown the capacity to convert brain signals into words, they did so with test subjects who could communicate, making it simpler to train a computer the brain waves linked with particular phrases.

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At UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, researchers in Dr. Eddie Chang’s lab.

Noah Berger/Getty Images

Two months ago, Stanford researchers announced the development and successful demonstration of a comparable system that allowed a man with a paralyzed hand to “type” 90 letters per minute with 94 percent accuracy, and 99 percent with the inclusion of word-prediction algorithms. A study published in the journal Nature in May detailed the method, which utilized electrodes implanted inside the brain rather than on its surface.

The guy and his family were not made available for remark by the University of California researchers because he requested anonymity. The voice neuroprosthesis he utilized in the research is an experimental gadget that the guy will not be able to use on a regular basis.

But he continues to take part in the ongoing study, which has as one goal the expansion of the number of words that may be used, and he seems to like the sessions and take pleasure in his participation. When the computer accurately represented his words, the guy would laugh and quiver, according to Dr. David Moses, a postdoctoral scientist at the institution and a co-author of the new study.

Dr. Moses said, “He feels extremely satisfied.” “It gives him a lot of pleasure to know that he is helping in his own unique way.”

Rolfe Winkler can be reached at [email protected]

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The what to stream wsj is an article about a man who has been silent for more than a decade, but now he can speak again. He was able to regain his ability to speak after receiving a brain implant.

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