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Technique for letting brain talk to computers now tunes in speech
Date:4/7/2011

lyze 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."


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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