Scientists engineer brain implant that can read minds and turn thoughts into speech with 84% accuracy | The Sun

World News

SCIENTISTS have engineered a brain implant that can read minds and turn thoughts into speech with a staggering 84 per cent accuracy.

The major scientific breakthrough could one day help people who can't communicate because of disabilities finally speak.

The implant can translate a person’s brain signals and what they're thinking into real words for others to hear.

The speech device has been developed by a collaborative team of experts at Duke University in the US.

Made up of neuroscientists, neurosurgeons, and engineers they have huge goals of helping people with severe neurological issues feel more happy and comfortable.

One of these is professor Gregory Cohan who said: “There are many patients who suffer from debilitating motor disorders, like ALS or locked-in syndrome, that can impair their ability to speak.

read more in amazing science


Moon's wobble blamed for killing millions of trees on Earth in new discovery


'Biggest diabetes breakthrough since insulin' gets NHS green light

“But the current tools available to allow them to communicate are generally very slow and cumbersome.”

The new device is made up of a flexible piece of medical-grade plastic that's as small as a postage stamp.

Despite its compact size it's filled with a whopping 256 tiny brain sensors.

So far, four patients have tried the implant and the success has been clear to see.

Most read in Tech


Scientists make monkey with glowing green eyes and fingers in chilling test


Incredible ‘flying whale’ plane of the future designed to speed up departures


Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak rushed to hospital after ‘suffering stroke’


I found out cheeky neighbours were stealing my Wi-Fi in the worst way possible

It was given to people who were scheduled for brain surgery to help treat Parkinson's disease or removing a tumour.

The implant is hoped to help people with Parkinsons, motor neurone disease, Alzheimer and other issues.

While they were going under for the operation, researchers placed the temporary implant into their brains.

This was a huge challenge as it had to be done super quickly to allow the normal operation to continue smoothly.

Cohan went on to say: “I like to compare it to a NASCAR pit crew.

“We don't want to add any extra time to the operating procedure, so we had to be in and out within 15 minutes.

"As soon as the surgeon and the medical team said ‘Go!’ we rushed into action and the patient performed the task.”

The patients were then asked a series of questions to help the device figure out how the persons mouth moved and how they pronounce certain sounds.

It was a simple listen-and-repeat activity that helped researchers understand how over 100 muscles in the users lips, tongue, jaw, and larynx work.

Then it was programmed into an artificial intelligence system that spoke for the patient.

After the questions, the data was fed into a machine that analysed how accurate the results were based on the predictions, using only the brain activity that was recorded.

The sounds made were found to have been translated with an average 40 per cent accuracy, with certain sounds achieving an impressive 84 per cent accuracy.

The "g" sound was the most clear pronunciation where as similar sounds like "p" or "b" were much trickier to translate.

Similar devices do currently exist for people with disabilities that inhibit their speech, but they are only for when a person is connected to a secondary device such as a computer or tablet and need an electrical outlet.

These types of devices are commonly known because of physics genius Stephen Hawking who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a form of motor neurone disease that meant he could only speak using a device.

Motor neurone disease is a rare condition that affects the brain and nerves and currently has no cure.

It causes weakness that gets worse over time and drastically lowers peoples life expectancy.

Ex-rugby star Rob Burrows announced in 2019 that he had been diagnosed with the rare disease and has spent the last few years raise awareness of the tragic disease.

This innovative new project, led by Duke University is looking to let people roam freely without the need of annoying wires or being stuck in a certain spot for a whole conversation.

They are now hoping to make a cordless version of the device after a recent $2.4million grant from the National Institutes of Health was handed down.

The main goal is to dramatically enhance the quality of life for people with a variety of neurological disorders that leave them unable to speak.

Cohan said: “We're now developing the same kind of recording devices, but without any wires.

"So you'd be able to move around, and you wouldn't have to be tied to an electrical outlet, which is really exciting.”

With anything involving the brain, some have concerns over the ethical and safety issues that come with a major test such as this.

Fears over how the device will affect patients in the long term, getting feedback from the patients if they're agitated and issues during the operation phase of the testing are the biggest worries.

Billionaire Elon Musk has been trying to get a similar brain chip concept off the ground in recent years with his company Neuralink.

The project was approved by US regulators to undergo human trials back in May and they are now looking for their first human volunteers.

Musk claimed in the past that the technology from his company, Neuralink, "will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs."

The device will be implanted into the brain by a specialist robot instead of a human.

Read More on The Sun


I'm A Celeb official line-up as Nigel Farage and Britney's sis head into jungle


Major DIY homeware chain to shut store doors permanently before Christmas

Some are calling it a massive leap in technology for those with paralysis, while others have likened it to the hit near-future dystopian series Black Mirror.

Neuralink and Musk have been under fire from the public however as it was revealed more than 1,000 animals dropped dead in previous trials.

Source: Read Full Article