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Reading Brain Waves

How's this for surveillance?

by Derek Mead
Feb 1 2012, 12:00am

How’s this for surveillance? Researchers at Cal Berkeley have figured out how to decode a person’s brain waves in order to understand what they’re hearing. Sounds nuts, sure, but it’s got a huge medical upside: Mapping how the brain processes sound may one day unlock a way for people who physically can’t speak to project their thoughts.

In a report published in PLoS Biology, the Berkeley team describes how they were able to record electrical activity in the brain’s temporal lobe, the home of the auditory system, as a person listened to a conversation. Using the correlation between the signals and the known conversation, the team was eventually able to translate brain signals and predict what words a person had heard solely from their brain activity.

“This is huge for patients who have damage to their speech mechanisms because of a stroke or Lou Gehrig’s disease and can’t speak,” co-author and UC Berkeley professor of neuroscience Robert Knight said. “If you could eventually reconstruct imagined conversations from brain activity, thousands of people could benefit.”

Read the rest at Motherboard.