Notes From The Brainframe: Scientists Work On "Mind-Reading Machine" To Sense Speech

Like time travel and the ability to vacation on the moon, mind reading has always been one hallmark of a most fascinating future.  Now, technology may be on its way to taking us there, at least as far as having our thoughts manifest into verbalized words, sans standard speech...


Huh.  That's fucking crazy.  I need another beer before I write this story.
Oops, sorry.  That was the internal monologue talking.
(Image courtesy dosmosis.blogspot.com.)


According to The Daily Mail, researchers at the University of California Berkeley have been assiduously studying the connections between thinking, hearing, and speaking words, with the aim of developing a device that can communicate thoughts directly from your frontal lobe.  Those who suffer from speech paralysis, stroke, or possibly even worse damage could be enabled with the gift of "speech" thanks to the device.

By placing electrodes on an awake patient's temporal lobes (the areas of the brain known to process language), the scientists were able to gain a data set of electrical signals regarding how the brain reacts when perceiving speech.  They then created a computer model that matched spoken sounds to the same signals.


The testing would probably be significantly easier if they just played earworms to the subjects.
"Sir, it's just a loop of Toto's 'Africa', over and over."
"BY JOVE, WE'VE SUCCEEDED!"
(Image courtesy theday.co.uk.)

"We want to develop an implantable device that decodes the signals that occur in the brain when we think about a word, then turn these signals into a sound file that can be reproduced by a speech device," chief researcher Dr. Robert Knight explained.

Knight's team was reportedly able to replicate sound files of the subject's thoughts from the correlated electrical signals with "remarkable accuracy."


Transmitting important or interesting information
is still your own damn problem, however.
(Image courtesy theawkwardyeti.com.)

The team had to overcome obstacles like determining which words were spoken vs. imagined, but Knight ultimately claimed, "Our work showed us it is possible to capture the brain signals that represent an intended word."

While more data and refined research will be required before such a system could be widely released, this is a major step in closing the gap between the mind's eye and the mouth.  Let's just hope the technology is only used for good...


Let's also hope they don't perfect how to detect mental images.
Because we've got some weird shit stored up there.
(Image courtesy promicabana.de.)


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