Neuroscientists have created brain-reading software which can decode speech signals in real-time into written sentences, potentially transforming the lives of people who have lost the ability to speak.
The software is the first of its kind to show how the intention to say specific words can be extracted from the brain activity and converted into text quickly enough to keep pace with a normal conversation.
It also decodes speech with listening and speaking considered together rather than separately, unlike previous studies.
Created by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the model currently only works for certain basic sentences, but it is hoped it can help create an advanced system which can decode the words a person intends to say in real-time.
Patients who experience facial paralysis, due to a stroke or spinal cord injury, may partially or completely lose their ability to speak.
But the areas in the brain which control the muscles of the jaw, lips, tongue, and larynx to produce speech are often intact and active, it could then be possible to use these intentional speech signals to decode what patients are trying to say.