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Paralyzed man communicates through brain waves by using a cutting edge device!

A team led by a neurosurgeon developed "speech neuroprosthetic", a device that can decode brain waves of people who cannot speak.
Paralyzed man communicates through brain waves by using a cutting edge device!
The Brain Implant allows the patient to turn his thoughts into words (Screen capture from UCSF)

The research uses a computer to analyze the pattern of brain waves

In the previous years, there were experiments with mind-controlled prosthetics that enable patients with paralysis to perform simple actions. By using a robotic arm, they can shake hands or hold a cup.

But there was a study that serves as a milestone for restoring natural communication for those who can't speak due to injury or illness. The head of this research is Dr. Edward Chang, a neurosurgeon at the University of California, San Francisco.

Chang said that they are quite excited about pioneering a new field that aims to ease the burden of patients who cannot talk because of paralysis. Their means of communication are so restricted since they cannot speak or write.

According to the neurosurgeon, his team is working on "speech neuroprosthetic". This technology decodes brain waves that normally control the vocal tract, the tiny muscle movements of the lips, jaw, tongue, and larynx that form each consonant and vowel.

A man who suffered a brainstem stroke for 15 years volunteered in this study. His illness caused paralysis all over his body so it also affected his speech.

To test the device, the researchers implanted electrodes on the surface of the man's brain, over the area that controls speech. After that, a computer analyzed the patterns when he attempted to say common words such as water or good.

Then one day, he eventually was able to differentiate between 50 words that could generate more than 1,000 sentences. They ask the patient some basic questions like "How are you today?" or "Are you thirsty?".

With the aid of the device, he was able to answer "I am very good" or "No, I am not thirsty. However, the computer is not voicing out the words, it translates them into text. According to the lab engineer, it takes about three to four seconds for the word to appear on the screen after the man tries to say it.

Allegedly, the next steps in development include ways to improve the device's speed, accuracy, and vocabulary size. Eventually, the progress of this technology could help people with injuries, strokes, or illnesses like Lou Gehrig's disease.

Source: NBC
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