Scientists have found a way to decode a stream of words in the brain using MRI scans and artificial intelligence.
The system reconstructs the gist of what a person hears or imagines, rather than trying to replicate each word, a team reports in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
“It’s getting at the ideas behind the words, the semantics, the meaning,” says Alexander Huth, an author of the study and an assistant professor of neuroscience and computer science at The University of Texas at Austin.
This technology can’t read minds, though. It only works when a participant is actively cooperating with scientists.
Still, systems that decode language could someday help people who are unable to speak because of a brain injury or disease. They also are helping scientists understand how the brain processes words and thoughts.
Previous efforts to decode language have relied on sensors placed directly on the surface of the brain. The sensors detect signals in areas involved in articulating words.
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