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Assistive technologies such as handheld tablets and eye-tracking devices are increasingly helping give voice to individuals with paralysis and speech impediments who otherwise would not be able to communicate. Now, researchers are directly harnessing electrical brain activity to help these individuals.

In a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, describe an approach that combines a brain-computer interface and machine learning models that allowed them to generate text from the electrical brain activity of a patient paralyzed because of a stroke.


Other brain-computer interfaces, which transform brain signals into commands, have used neural activity while individuals attempted handwriting movements to produce letters. In a departure from previous work, the new study taps into the speech production areas of the brain to generate entire words and sentences that show up on a screen.

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