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Mind-Reading Devices to Help the Speechless Speak

For some patients, the thoughts are there, but the words can’t come. New mind-reading technology could help them speak.

The thoughts are there, but there is no way to express them. For “locked in” patients, many with Lou Gehrig’s disease, the only way to communicate tends to be through blinking in code.

But now, words can be read directly from patients’ minds by attaching microelectrode grids to the surface of the brain and learning which signals mean which words, a development that will ultimately help such patients talk again.

“They’re perfectly aware. They just can’t get signals out of their brain to control their facial expressions. “They’re the patients we’d like to help first,” said University of Utah’s , an assistant professor of bioengineering who, with neurosurgery professor Paul House, M.D., published the study in the October issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering.

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