A new device taps into brain waves to help paralyzed individuals communicate. The technology, “speech neuroprosthetic,” transcribes brain waves normally controlling the vocal tract, movements from the lips, jaw, tongue, and larynx.
Scientists used the method for the first time on a paralyzed man at the University of California, San Francisco. The unnamed individual is in his late 30s and suffered a brain-stem stroke 15 years ago, leaving him paralyzed and unable to speak. With the speech neuroprosthetic technology, over 50 words were identified and over 1000 sentences could be formed.
“Most of us take for granted how easily we communicate through speech,” said Dr. Edward Chang, a neurosurgeon leading the research. “It’s exciting to think we’re at the very beginning of a new chapter, a new field.”
Using mind-controlled prosthetics to aid paralyzed individuals is a new technology. In recent years, researchers have developed prosthetic arms for the disabled.
“The prosthesis is mind-controlled, via the electrical muscle and nerve signals sent through the arm stump and captured by the electrodes. The signals are passed into the implant, which goes through the skin and connects to the prosthesis,” according to Science Daily. This process is similar to the speech neuroprosthetic, which is directed by the vocal tract rather than nerve signals.
ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
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PHOTO CREDITS: AP NEWS
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