Monday, November 24, 2008

Brain Speak

Scientists from Boston University have discovered a way to interpret speech from the brain signals of an almost completely paralyzed patient who is unable to talk. Dr. Frank Guenther studied the particular signals produced in the brain when a person thinks about certain vowel sounds. He then implanted electrodes in the brain of a patient with locked-in syndrome, a type of paralysis that prevents all movement save for flutters of the eyelids. The patient has an otherwise healthy brain, and the electrodes were tuned to register the specific signals associated with certain vowel sounds. Now, a computer can interpret those vowel sounds verbally, and the hope is that this technology will eventually allow people who can’t physically speak to communicate with their brains. Meanwhile, some researcher in some part of the world is currently in the eighteenth month of an intensive study into whether a self-proclaimed psychic can move a matchbook with his mind. Ah, priorities. More details here.

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