Scientists create device that turns brain signals into speech

Scientists create device that turns brain signals into speech

PanARMENIAN.Net - Scientists say they have created a new device that can turn brain signals into electronic speech, the Voice of America says.

The invention could one day give people who have lost the ability to speak a better way of communicating than current methods.

The device was developed by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco. Their results were recently published in a study in the journal Nature.

Scientists created a “brain machine interface” that is implanted in the brain. The device was built to read and record brain signals that help control the muscles that produce speech. These include the lips, larynx, tongue and jaw.

The experiment involved a two-step process. First, the researchers used a “decoder” to turn electrical brain signals into representations of human vocal movements. A synthesizer then turns the representations into spoken sentences.

Other brain-computer interfaces already exist to help people who cannot speak on their own. Often these systems are trained to follow eye or facial movements of people who have learned to spell out their thoughts letter-by-letter.

But researchers say this method can produce many errors and is very slow, permitting at most about 10 spoken words per minute. This compares to between 100 and 150 words per minute used in natural speech.

Edward Chang is a professor of neurological and member of the university's Weill Institute for Neuroscience. He was a lead researcher on the project. In a statement, he said the new two-step method presents a “proof of principle” with great possibilities for “real-time communication” in the future.

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