Brain Implant Lets You Speak Your Mind, Turns Thoughts Into Speech

Scientists have developed a breakthrough brain implant that reads people’s minds and translates them into speech. Researchers claim that this significantly helps people with disabilities who have lost their ability to talk and restores speech defects.

A study published in Nature revealed that a team of scientists from the University of California developed a mind-reading technology brain implant that transforms people’s thoughts into speech. The device works in two stages. First, an electrode is implanted into the brain which collects electrical signals that move the lips, tongue, jaw and voice box. Afterward, it stimulates the movements of the mouth and throat to form sounds and speech comes out of the virtual vocal tract.

Instead of forming patterns from the electrical signals that code each word, it focuses on the shape of the mouth and sounds and translates them into speech. According to researcher professor Edward Chang, their study shows that the implant generates spoken sentences based only on a person’s brain activity. He added that the device can help patients who have lost their speech abilities, reported the BBC.

Although the invention provides a breakthrough technology, it still needs further development. It works better with prolonged sounds such as “sh” and “buh.” It worked 70 percent of the time during clinical tests on five people when they were given a list of words to articulate.

As per the scientists, it can significantly aid those who suffer from motor neuron disease, brain injuries, throat cancer, strokes and neurogenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. It is, however, limited to stroke patients whose voice box, jaw, lips and tongue are working correctly.

The brain implant is currently on its early stages. Although it can transpose thoughts of mute patients in real time, the recordings remain uncanny. They are a little fuzzy. Chang said that one factor affecting its efficacy is people’s lack of ability to recognize what goes in and out of our mouths when we speak. Although the brain translates these thoughts into movements, further research is needed to decode some of the mouth’s activity and translate them into more accurate sounds.