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Feb 7, 2012Science and Technology
Reconstructing imagined conversations from brain activity is within reach

Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley have taken the first step towards reconstructing imagined conversations from brain activity. This research opens possibilities of synthesizing language for patients silenced due to paralysis or stroke. In the study, scientists obtained the help of volunteers undergoing brain surgery for chronic seizures. Up to 256 electrodes were placed specifically upon the surface of the temporal region, the auditory center of the human brain. Sensors measured surface potentials while patients listened to 5-10 minutes of conversation. Two separate models developed by the team analyzed this data and were used to reconstruct frequency specific spectrograms capable of generating the sounds remarkably similar to what the patients heard. Reconstructing imagined conversations is much more difficult, however, according to Brian N. Pasley, a post-doctoral researcher in the center, there is evidence that, "hearing the sound and imagining the sound activate similar areas of the brain."

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