Understanding and Decoding Thoughts in the Human Brain

Abstract:

Many people cannot communicate because of their physical problems, such as paralysis. These patients cannot speak with their friends, but their brains are still working well. They can think by themselves and would bene t from a device that could read their minds and translate their thoughts into audible speech. In our study, we placed electrodes beneath patients’ skulls, directly at the surface of the brain, and measured brain activity while the patients were thinking. We then tried to decode and translate the words that they imagined into audible sounds. We showed that we could decode some parts of the sound of what patients were thinking. This was our rst attempt at translating thoughts to speech, and we hope to get much better, as many patients who cannot speak but have thoughts in their minds could bene t from a “speech decoder.”