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A brain decoder that could read your inner thoughts

Posted in Science on 3rd Nov, 2014 09:35 PM by AlexMuller

Talking to yourself is something which most of us can admit to. Imagine if we told you that someone could eavesdrop on your private thoughts? This sounds creepy, but it's exactly what scientists are working towards. When you hear someone speak, sound waves activate specific neurons that allow the brain to interpret the sounds as words.


Now scientists have created an algorithm that does the same thing, but with brain activity instead of sound waves. To learn how to translate people's thoughts, researchers from the University of California in the US looked at the brain activity of seven people undergoing epilepsy surgery. The participants were asked to first read aloud a short piece of text, then read it silently in their head.

While they read the text aloud, the team built a personal ‘decoder’ for each patient, by mapping which neurons were reacting to different aspects of speech. They made this map using Electrocorticographic (ECoG) readings of electrodes implanted in the patients. 
Once they'd worked out which brain patterns related to which words, they then used their decoder to try to read brain activity during silent reading, and found that it was able to translate several words that the volunteers were thinking.
The researchers also applied the decoder while the participants were listening to Pink Floyd, to see which neurons respond to various musical notes. "Sound is sound," Brian Pasley, neuroscientist and lead author of the study, told Helen Thompson from New Scientist. "[The decoder] helps us understand different aspects of how the brain processes it."
The team are now fine-tuning their algorithms, and though there is a lot more work to be done, this is an important step to developing a device that could help paralysed patients speak again.

Tags: brainthoughthardwareBCIbrain computer interfaceneuroscienceneurons

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Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-11-04
This is indeed an interesting development that could help those that are not able to speak for various reasons - directly translating mind into artificial sound or text is an amazing prospect Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2016-02-18
I'm super proud of you, my precious sisetr, in taking on and enduring this experiment! I'll be thinking and praying for you today, your first Wednesday fast, and sending encouraging hugs your way. I will vicarious live through you today as I eat my mashed potatoes in my closet. Ha! Go attack the day, big shooter! I love you so much, Am xoxo Reply


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