Sunday 18 February 2018

Scientists find way to read mind for words

Richard Alleyne in London

A mind-reading machine is a step closer to reality after scientists discovered a way of translating people's thoughts into words.

Researchers translated brain signals into speech using sensors attached to the surface of the brain. The breakthrough, which is up to 90pc accurate, offers a way to communicate for paralysed patients who cannot speak.

"We were beside ourselves with excitement when it started working," said Prof Bradley Greger, a bioengineer at Utah University who led the team of researchers.

"I would call it brain reading and we hope that in two or three years it will be available for use for paralysed patients."

His team attached two button-sized grids of 16 nonÄpenetrating electrodes to the speech centres of the brain of an epileptic patient, who had part of his skull removed for another operation to treat his condition.

A computer recorded brain signals as the patient repeatedly read each of 10 words that might be useful to a paralysed person: yes, no, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, hello, goodbye, more and less. He was then asked to say the words out loud and the computer matched the brain signals for each word between 76pc and 90pc of the time.

Because simply thinking a word was thought to produce the same brain signals as saying it, Prof Greger believed that a translation device and voice box that repeated the word you were thinking could be devised.

"But we need to be able to do more words with more accuracy before it is something a patient really might find useful." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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