AI Brain Implants Enable Paralyzed Patients to Speak Again

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Highlights

  • Stanford researchers employ AI to facilitate communication for ALS patients through brain signals.
  • UCSF and UC Berkeley teams enable locked-in syndrome patients to communicate using digital avatars.
  • These technologies demonstrate remarkable speed and accuracy, reaching up to 78 words per minute.
  • They provide a promising glimpse into a future where paralyzed individuals can communicate with ease.

Researchers have made an incredible discovery to help people with paralysis regain their ability to speak. They’re doing this by using tiny brain-implanted devices along with special software.

This is truly Great breaking news for individuals who’ve lost their ability to speak due to conditions like ALS and Locked-in Syndrome.

Over at Stanford University, a remarkable team of scientists lent their expertise to assist a woman named Pat Bennett, who’s battling ALS. This condition is notorious for its muscle-weakening effects, which can result in complete loss of mobility and speech.

AI Brain Implants Enable Paralyzed Patients to Speak Again
—-Pat Bennett, the participant in the study.

 

The researchers implanted four tiny sensors into her brain. These sensors detected her brain activity and transmitted it to a computer. The computer was equipped with software that transformed her brain signals into words displayed on a screen.

They spent four months training the system, and by the end of this period, it could recognize and produce 62 words per minute, though it still had an error rate of around 24%.

In a separate study, a team from the University of California extended their assistance to a woman named Ann, who was grappling with Locked-in Syndrome. Despite being unable to move or speak, her brain functioned perfectly.

Pat Bennett, the participant in the study.

In Ann’s case, researchers employed a distinct type of sensor placed on the surface of her brain. This sensor, too, communicated signals to a computer.

Remarkably, the computer translated these brain signals not only into words but also into facial expressions for a digital avatar. This avatar bore a striking resemblance to Ann herself and had the ability to engage in conversation and display various facial expressions.

Ann’s system demonstrated remarkable progress, achieving an impressive rate of nearly 80 words per minute.

Frank Willett, a scientist at Stanford, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “We can now envision a future where individuals with paralysis have the ability to communicate freely.”

Experts unanimously agree: this is a monumental step toward improving the lives of paralyzed individuals.

Both studies underscore that this is just the beginning of an exciting journey. There are still challenges to address, such as extending the longevity of the brain sensors.

Still, the teams hold hope and are determined to create systems that can be approved for broader use among people.

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