December 9, 2022

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He could not speak and write.  All it takes is a small implant in his brain that reads his mind

He could not speak and write. All it takes is a small implant in his brain that reads his mind

Every year thousands of people lose their ability to speak due to strokes, accidents or diseases, which makes it difficult for them to function in their daily lives. One of them was the first participant in the Brain-Computer Interface Restoration for Arm and Voice program referred to as BRAVO1, a man in his 30s who had dysarthria after suffering a stroke at age 20. In 2019, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco He placed a small implant on the area of ​​his brain responsible for generating speech so that they could monitor the electrical patterns generated by his thoughtsWhen trying to speak words and letters.

Last year they made like this A brain-computer interface in the form of a tiny implant capable of reading and translating 50 common words, enough to generate over 1,000 sentences when a paralyzed man tries to say them.. In their new study published in Nature Communications, they share the progress they’ve made in this regard – this includes the ability to decode 26 letters of the phonetic alphabet, and thus spell the words a man wants to pronounce.

Scientists They were able to decode more than 1,150 words in this way, which is “more than 85% of the content in natural English sentences” They think they can expand this vocabulary to more than 9,000 words, which is “the number of words most people use in a year.” The device decodes 29 characters per minute, with an error rate of 6%, which is about 7 words per minute.

In the case of 50 ready words, the implant adapts faster, because we are talking about 18 words per minute, but as the study authors stress, it was also important for the man to be able to “express” other words – this unique approach gives him greater flexibility. In short, toiletFor daily communication, the whole words that the interface recognizes can be used, and in the case of less frequently used words, use the spelling.

At the moment, the man is the only patient in the program, but the scientists are preparing to work with others, albeit for Severe invasiveness and risks associated with the transplant procedure, the solution will definitely not become common in the near future. However, it shows the huge potential of neural prosthetics, which can significantly improve the quality of life of people who have lost their ability to speak, giving them a higher degree of independence.

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