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They design a system that turns thoughts into speech

Neuro engineers from the University of Colombia in New York (USA) created a system that translates thoughts into understandable and recognizable discourse, which can mean new ways of computer interaction with the brain.

By controlling someone's brain activity, technology can recreate words that a person can hear with unprecedented clarity.

This promotion, which uses the power of voice synthesizers and artificial intelligence, lays the foundation for people who cannot speak, such as those who live with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ELA) or recover from stroke, restore the ability to communicate with the outside world.

“Our voice helps us communicate with friends, family and the outside world, so the loss of voice power due to injury or illness is so destructive,” says Nima Mesgarani, principal investigator at the Institute for Mental Behavior. Cerebral Mortimer B. Zuckerman from Columbia University.

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

Patterns in the brain

Decades of research have shown that when people talk and even imagine that they are talking, drop-down patterns of activity appear in their brains.

Another type of signal also appears when we hear someone speak, or imagine that we are listening.

A team of researchers turned to a “vocoder,” a computerized algorithm that can synthesize words after going through a recording of people who speak.

“This is the same technology that Apple Echo and Siri from Apple use, which gives oral answers to our questions,” Mesgarani said.

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

“Working with Dr. Mehta, we asked patients with epilepsy who had already undergone brain surgery to listen to phrases spoken by different people when measuring patterns of brain activity,” said Mesgarani, who noted that these neural patterns taught “vocoder”. ".

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

“This would give a person who has lost the ability to speak, due to injury or illness, a new opportunity to communicate with the world,” he added. EFE

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