Saturday, October 16, 2021

Brain implants turn imagined handwriting into text on a screen

Electrodes in a paralyzed man’s mind turned his imagined handwriting into phrases typed on a display screen. The translation from mind to textual content could finally level to methods to assist individuals with disabilities like paralysis talk using simply their ideas.

A 65-year-old man had two grids of tiny electrodes implanted on the floor of his mind. The electrodes learn electrical exercise within the part of the mind that controls hand and finger actions. Although the person was paralyzed from the neck down, he imagined writing letters softly together with his hand. With an algorithm, researchers then found out the neural patterns that went with every imagined letter and reworked these patterns into the textual content on a display screen.

From his mind exercise alone, the participant produced 90 characters, or 15 words, per minute, Krishna Shenoy, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Stanford University, and colleagues report May 12 in Nature. That’s about as quick as the typical typing fee of individuals across the participant’s age on smartphones.

The thought-to-text system labored even long after the damage. “The big surprise is that even years and years after spinal cord injury, where you haven’t been able to use your hands or fingers, we can still listen in on that electrical activity. It’s still very active,” Shenoy says.

Thought-powered communication remains to be in its early phases (SN: 4/24/19). Research with more volunteers is required, however, “there’s little doubt that this will work again in other people,” says Shenoy. The researchers plan to check the system with an individual who has misplaced each the power to maneuver and converse.

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