Navigation Links
Technique for letting brain talk to computers now tunes in speech

Patients with a temporary surgical implant have used regions of the brain that control speech to "talk" to a computer for the first time, manipulating a cursor on a computer screen simply by saying or thinking of a particular sound.

"There are many directions we could take this, including development of technology to restore communication for patients who have lost speech due to brain injury or damage to their vocal cords or airway," says author Eric C. Leuthardt, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Scientists have typically programmed the temporary implants, known as brain-computer interfaces, to detect activity in the brain's motor networks, which control muscle movements.

"That makes sense when you're trying to use these devices to restore lost mobility the user can potentially engage the implant to move a robotic arm through the same brain areas he or she once used to move an arm disabled by injury," says Leuthardt, assistant professor of neurosurgery, of biomedical engineering and of neurobiology, "But that has the potential to be inefficient for restoration of a loss of communication."

Patients might be able to learn to think about moving their arms in a particular way to say hello via a computer speaker, Leuthardt explains. But it would be much easier if they could say hello by using the same brain areas they once engaged to use their own voices.

The research appears April 7 in The Journal of Neural Engineering.

The devices under study are temporarily installed directly on the surface of the brain in epilepsy patients. Surgeons like Leuthardt use them to identify the source of persistent, medication-resistant seizures and map those regions for surgical removal. Researchers hope one day to install the implants permanently to restore capabilities lost to injury and disease.

Leuthardt and his colleagues have recently revealed that the implants can be used to analyze the frequency of brain wave activity, allowing them to make finer distinctions about what the brain is doing. For the new study, Leuthardt and others applied this technique to detect when patients say or think of four sounds:

* oo, as in few
* e, as in see
* a, as in say
* a, as in hat

When scientists identified the brainwave patterns that represented these sounds and programmed the interface to recognize them, patients could quickly learn to control a computer cursor by thinking or saying the appropriate sound.

In the future, interfaces could be tuned to listen to just speech networks or both motor and speech networks, Leuthardt says. As an example, he suggests that it might one day be possible to let a disabled patient both use his or her motor regions to control a cursor on a computer screen and imagine saying "click" when he or she wants to click on the screen.

"We can distinguish both spoken sounds and the patient imagining saying a sound, so that means we are truly starting to read the language of thought," he says. "This is one of the earliest examples, to a very, very small extent, of what is called 'reading minds' detecting what people are saying to themselves in their internal dialogue."

The next step, which Leuthardt and his colleagues are working on, is to find ways to distinguish what they call "higher levels of conceptual information."

"We want to see if we can not just detect when you're saying dog, tree, tool or some other word, but also learn what the pure idea of that looks like in your mind," he says. "It's exciting and a little scary to think of reading minds, but it has incredible potential for people who can't communicate or are suffering from other disabilities."


Contact: Michael C. Purdy
Washington University School of Medicine

Related medicine news :

1. NYU Langone offers new imaging technique to advance robotic surgery for patients
2. Influence of pulp extraction technique on DPSCs quality and quantity
3. Innovative technique gives vision researchers insight into how people recognize faces
4. New laser technique opens doors for drug discovery
5. Surgical technique helps adult male survivors of childhood cancer regain fertility
6. John Theurer Cancer Center orthopedic oncologist shares new limb sparing surgical techniques
7. Study shows PRP, commonly used technique to improve healing, doesnt work in rotator cuff surgery
8. New techniques for stapling peptides could spur development of drugs for cancer
9. Minimally invasive technique appears helpful to reanimate facial paralysis
10. Less invasive techniques help manage complications of severe pancreatic disease
11. CTO summit and left main coronary interventions course will feature latest research and techniques
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... Young patients with a wide variety of dental needs can now receive ... who are pediatric dentists in Tucson, AZ . Unlike traditional treatment options that ... minimal discomfort and bleeding to the patient during treatment and the following recovery period. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... DMG Productions announced that they will feature Aphria, Inc., in an upcoming episode ... and show times TBA. , Aphria, Inc., is a publicly traded company incorporated under ... medical marijuana pursuant to the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (the “MMPR”). , Aphria ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... Bolier Reactor System. Brillouin is the developer of renewable energy technologies capable of ... nuclear reactions (“LENR”), announced today that its WET™ and HHT™ Boiler System reactor ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... American Family Care (AFC), the nation’s ... a holiday pop-up clinic located in Metro Atlanta’s North Point Mall. The clinic is ... different way. The location is scheduled to operate through Dec. 24. , Holiday Pop-Up ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health ... Quality® Bariatric Surgery Facility for treating individuals living with morbid or extreme obesity. ... available to its members to help them make informed decisions about their healthcare ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , 24 de noviembre de 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... Breathing Pacemaker System, se complace anunciar el nombramiento ... consultor clínico.   ... -   --> ... un fisiólogo y consultor en neonatología y cardiología ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  DILON Diagnostics and GE Healthcare are pleased ... DILON to distribute GE,s Discovery NM750b Molecular Breast Imaging ... this distribution agreement will provide Dilon,s experienced distribution network ... and is considered an initial step in an ongoing ... clinicians and their patients. --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Sectra (STO: SECT B) announces that ... agreement to deploy Breast Imaging PACS in its ... Breast Center a future-proof platform capable of expanding with the ... that Breast Center of Acadiana has entered into ... in its two freestanding imaging centers. This investment will ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: