Researchers at UCSF decode speech of a paralyzed man with the brain signals sent to his vocal tract

New technology allows people with speech loss communicate by attempting to speech


Researchers at UCSF were successful in translating the brain signals sent to the vocal tract of a severely paralyzed man. The signals directly translated into words that appeared on a screen. This technology will make the communication of people with speech loss more natural and easier.

Earlier, neuroprosthetic technology allowed one to type out one letter at a time. This process was slow. In that process, the parts of the brain that controlled one’s arms or hand were also tapped. It was unnecessary. The researchers at UCSF employed an implant directly on the part of the brain that was dedicated to speech. The subject can mentally activate the patterns regarding speech and then the system will translate it into entire words rather than letters.

The project was developed with the voluntary participation of patients with normal speech to record their brain activities related to speech. The results thus obtained were then analyzed and were decoded using statistical language for improved accuracy. This technology proved useful also in cases where the patients were paralyzed for a long time. The researchers are now working on improving the accuracy and expand the vocabulary for conducting more experiments.