Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

With mind-reading speller, free-for-all conversations that are silent and still

Date:
June 28, 2012
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Researchers have come up with a device that may enable people who are completely unable to speak or move at all to nevertheless manage unscripted back-and-forth conversation. The key to such silent and still communication is the first real-time, brain-scanning speller.

Researchers have come up with a device that may enable people who are completely unable to speak or move at all to nevertheless manage unscripted back-and-forth conversation. The key to such silent and still communication is the first real-time, brain-scanning speller.
Credit: ktsdesign / Fotolia

Researchers have come up with a device that may enable people who are completely unable to speak or move at all to nevertheless manage unscripted back-and-forth conversation. The key to such silent and still communication is the first real-time, brain-scanning speller, according to the report published online on June 28 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

The new technology builds on groundbreaking earlier uses of fMRI brain scans to assess consciousness in people described as being in an unconscious, vegetative state and to enable them to answer yes and no questions. fMRI (or functional magnetic resonance imaging) is typically used for clinical and research purposes to track brain activity by measuring blood flow.

"The work of Adrian Owen and colleagues led me to wonder whether it might even become possible to use fMRI, mental tasks, and appropriate experimental designs to freely encode thoughts, letter-by-letter, and therewith enable back-and-forth communication in the absence of motor behavior," said Bettina Sorger of Maastricht University in The Netherlands.

The new evidence shows that the answer to that thought question is yes. Sorger's team came up with a letter-encoding technique that requires almost no pre-training. Participants in their study voluntarily selected letters on a screen, which guided the letter encoding; for each specific character, participants were asked to perform a particular mental task for a set period of time. That produced 27 distinct brain patterns corresponding to each letter of the alphabet and the equivalent of a space bar, which could be automatically decoded in real-time using newly developed data analysis methods.

In each communication experiment, participants held a mini-conversation consisting of two open questions and answers. Everyone the researchers tested was able to successfully produce answers within a single one-hour session.

The results substantially extend earlier uses of fMRI, which allowed individuals to answer the equivalent of multiple-choice questions having four or fewer possible answers, by enabling free-letter spelling. That could make all the difference for people who are completely paralyzed and unable to benefit from other means of alternative communication, Sorger says.

Ultimately, she says their goal is to transfer the fMRI technology they've developed to a more portable and affordable method for measuring blood flow, such as functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bettina Sorger, Joel Reithler, Brigitte Dahmen, Rainer Goebel. A Real-Time fMRI-Based Spelling Device Immediately Enabling Robust Motor-Independent Communication. Current Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.05.022

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "With mind-reading speller, free-for-all conversations that are silent and still." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120628164426.htm>.
Cell Press. (2012, June 28). With mind-reading speller, free-for-all conversations that are silent and still. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120628164426.htm
Cell Press. "With mind-reading speller, free-for-all conversations that are silent and still." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120628164426.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Enters Mobile Payment Business

Apple Enters Mobile Payment Business

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Apple is making a strategic bet with the launch of Apple Pay, the mobile pay service aimed at turning your iPhone into your wallet. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins