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Translating Brain Waves Into Words

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the brain-tsunamis-too-intense dept.

Biotech 72

cortex writes with an excerpt from the L.A. Times: "In a first step toward helping severely paralyzed people communicate more easily, Utah researchers have shown that it is possible to translate recorded brain waves into words, using a grid of electrodes placed directly on the brain. ... The device could benefit people who have been paralyzed by stroke, Lou Gehrig's disease or trauma and are 'locked in' — aware but unable to communicate except, perhaps, by blinking an eyelid or arduously moving a cursor to pick out letters or words from a list. ... Some researchers have been attempting to 'read' speech centers in the brain using electrodes placed on the scalp. But such electrodes 'are so far away from the electrical activity that it gets blurred out,' [University of Utah bioengineer Bradley] Greger said. ... He and his colleagues instead use arrays of tiny microelectrodes that are placed in contact with the brain, but not implanted. In the current study, they used two arrays, each with 16 microelectrodes."

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72 comments

Philosophical issue arises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33506522)

Supposedly this would be equivalent to a magical Babelfish translator, since brain waves cannot be language specific. However, the existance of a meta-language behind all the many different human languages of the world has never been conclusively proven. Therefore I think something is fishy with the claim.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

Malenfrant (781088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506580)

This is complete nonsense. The article states that it is reading the speech centers. I would assume that it has already been translated into language before this. I for one think in English, so I see no reason why any reading of my thoughts, especially just before I voice them, would not also be in English.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (2, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506594)

Do you think in English, or do you think in abstract thoughts that your brain then later makes you think were direct English? I think there's a bit of debate on that, and it is something that's difficult to test.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (3, Insightful)

donutface (847957) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506608)

As somebody who is fluently bilingual (speaking one language at home and another while out with friends), my thoughts tend to be neither English or Afrikaans but rather concepts which are then translated. When I think I generally dont think in words unless I think about thinking in words. I'm sure many other bilingual people that speak both languages frequently can probably say something similar.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (2, Interesting)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506678)

I'm sure many other bilingual people that speak both languages frequently can probably say something similar.

I have a good understanding of 4 languages and speak 3 fluently (English, Dutch, French, German)

I can attest to this in a certain extend: My thoughts are often also in concepts, but the "context" of a language differs greatly and the way people express themselves in the different languages have different nuances. Often it depends on the context I'm thinking to which language I switch if I'm actually thinking in language. It feels like a post-process filter, where I sometimes conclude mid-sentence I don't have a translation for a specific word yet I'm in the process of actively verbalizing the concept or idea.

The concepts that the languages describe are not just langual but also cultural and within your demography you're "on par" with the cultural nuances to be able to communicate.

The languages I've been in contact with are a bit simular and related, but as an example the Spanish they speak in Cuba is a different one with different expressions as the Spanish in Spain, where the life-conditions are vastly different.

So for me, it seems a grand challenge to come to a "babelfish", which translates universal concepts and where brainwaves are identical to recreate the same (or simular, or derived, or local) concept or idea.

To me it seems these "thought reading machines" are just able to capture a brainwave pattern, associate a concept or word with it individually. Otherwise it would raise for me personally ALOT of additional questions and requires a readjustment of how I imagine the brain to operate and come into form through aging and learning.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (2, Interesting)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506902)

1. What language do you count in?
2. What language do you dream in?

Out of pure interest, If you're bilingual as a child. What language do you count in?
Most people who learn a new language as a teen or adult find it easiest to count or do maths in the first language learnt. Even when they’ve been living in their new country for several years.
I found working with numbers in Japanese next to impossible. Until I used their money, now it’s effortless. Still can’t do times very well.

Finally, What language do you dream in?
My parents did the host family thing for foreign students. After the student had stayed for a couple of months and you could see a change in fluency. I liked to ask if they had started dreaming in English yet. The ones that didn’t would hit a plateau for much longer and progression took ages. Based on 15 years of observation growing up with different students from around the world trying to learn the English.

My child is growing up bilingual. It’s nice to have some insight. - I still need to learn teh English; but that's another thing.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

donutface (847957) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507270)

1. What language do you count in? 2. What language do you dream in?

Afrikaans is my mothertongue so I tend to count in that but for larger numbers I probably revert to English (First 10 years of my life was spent speaking Afrikaans exclusively, second 10 years was mostly English with Afrikaans at home). If you give me a very large number in English I would be able to visualise it a bit quicker than the same number in Afrikaans, but for lower more frequently used numbers they'd both be exactly the same. Just different words for the same concepts. As far as dreams go, it depends who I'm speaking to in my dream. If its my friends I speak in English and if its at home I speak in Afrikaans.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510212)

I regularly do simultaneous interpreting*, so I think I'm qualified to give my opinions on the topic. In case you haven't guessed, I grew up bilingual.

* By admitting involvement in the field, I am hereby guaranteed at least one terribly embarrassing language error in my post. Oh well, at least I'm an AC...

While I'm interpreting, I often don't even notice what my source language is. I'd happily continue to interpret to, say, English when a new speaker starts to speak in English.

I only really notice the language when I have to pause because the target language mandates information that only appears later in a source language sentence. (Or worse, its completely absent.)

The GP has already answered you, but I'll throw in my experiences too:

1. What language do you count in?

Usually my mother tongue, but not always. For example, when it comes to advanced mathematics, I tend to use English terminology because I learnt that first. But the language of the actual discussion will depend on whom I'm speaking to.

2. What language do you dream in?

If you're fluent in it, you're dreaming in it.

Sometimes, I also dream in a gibberish composed of seemingly random real words (which I understand while dreaming, but no longer once I wake up). Don't you?

I'll add some more things that might interest you:

Thought:
When speaking a language, I think in that language. The same applies when I'm thinking of speaking to someone.

At other times, the language of my thoughts will usually be the language that I use most when discussing that particular topic.

Memory:
When I memorise something abstract (such as a telephone number or a sequence of random letters), I can only recall it in the language I used when memorising it. It takes some mental effort to translate, actually.

But when it is a concrete thing, such as a sentence, I literally cannot even remember in *which* language the original was.

Your post really boils down to the Sapir Whorf Hypothesis, which is very difficult to prove or disprove.

All of the above considered, I personally suspect that we do not think in a language and that it does not *directly* impact our thought.

But, I also suspect that language indirectly restricts us: because of difficulty in exchanging our thoughts with other people, we have a hard time passing some types of information from one generation to the next.

The best of luck with your kid.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

Spugglefink (1041680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512010)

Most people who learn a new language as a teen or adult find it easiest to count or do maths in the first language learnt.

I'm an example of that assertion. I'd also point out that numbers written out with digits are always English unless I'm really thinking about it. Reading a book or something in my head, I can read Spanish directly, but the numbers come out in English. Something like Cristobal Colón viajó en fourteen ninety-two. It definitely takes a little extra conscious nudge to translate 1492 into mil cuatrocientos noventa y dos if I'm reading the passage aloud, for example.

I had never thought about whether this was a common phenomenon or not, and it's kind of interesting to examine this fact about myself.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

Strange Quark Star (1157447) | more than 3 years ago | (#33514292)

Russian was my first language, then I moved to Germany (age 5) and starting at age 6 German became my 'main language', in that I started thinking in it and being more fluent in it than in Russian, which I only used at home. At age 16 I set myself a challenge: think only in English! After some time, it became my thinking language, although maths were still done in German (German school, German university).

As the others, when talking in a specific language I think it, too. Recently I started forcing myself to count and do maths in English as well, and now it became effortless. At some point, I found thinking in Japanese to be quite pleasant, but as my vocabulary is rather limited I switched back to English. Really, my reasons for thinking in a particular language are convenience and aesthetics.

What I am dreaming in? Just this night I was dreaming in English; I can distinctly remember English phrases that I said.

When making personal notes, I write them down in English. Also, whenever there is a choice between English and some other language (web sites, books) I prefer the former.
Even though I've only ever been once to England for one week and have no English-speaking friends/relatives, it became my most used language. I just like it way more than my other two alternatives and it's much more practical.

I am 21 years old now and speak fluently in German, Russian, English and to a limited extent in Japanese.
Now I use Russian to talk to relatives and my girlfriend; German to my friends, acquaintances, generally people around here; English for consuming media (movies, books, internet).

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506832)

I deal with scientific stuff daily and thus I'm always thinking in a visualized concept first, words and numbers come afterwards.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507614)

I'm a native English speaker who used to be pretty good at Spanish (I wouldn't say fluent) but haven't used it in years, and speak a little Thai (I spent a year there in the USAF), and I don't usually think in words, either. But then, I never did, not even before learning Spanish or Thai. And like I said, I haven't used it in years and would probably be completely lost if I woke up in Mexico or somewhere.

I think mostly in pictures. I think all brains are different; some work in words, some in concepts, some in pictures, some in numbers, etc. When I read a novel, I don't even see the words; I'm there, and hear the sounds and speech, and see/smell/taste what's being described, especially with a good writer.

You can see why I no longer read Stephen King; that shit would have me in a mental hospital if I kept reading it. He writes too good for the creepy subject matter.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507748)

I am bilingual too. (French & English)
In my head I actually do both:
-Talk to myself in English or French when I'm alone (E.g. Programing, planning, etc)
-Think in concepts and then translate to French or English when I verbalize to someone.

The later is very obvious when you know what you mean but cannot find the right word in the language you happen to be speaking in. I'm sure monolinguals experience the same but the effect is not as obvious.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33508338)

Ha! Here we go. I was looking at all the posts of people who thought only in concepts and not understanding. Your post makes much more sense to me. I think mostly in words, but not entirely. Sometimes I have a moment where I have an incomplete thought, because I can't find the word I'm looking for. Right now, as I type, it feels like I'm thinking 'in my fingers.'

I am not a visual person at all. I am almost entirely an audial person. I can remember what just about anything sounds like. I cannot remember what anything looks like. If I don't see someone for a week or two, I can't remember what they look like. This applies to my immediate family and closest friends!
Having such an audio-centric memory may be why I think so much in words.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506610)

Different parts of the brain do each. A "complete thought" involves coordination among several different regions.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506698)

Do you think in English, or do you think in abstract thoughts that your brain then later makes you think were direct English? I think there's a bit of debate on that, and it is something that's difficult to test.

A couple of things: when my wife switches between English and Cantonese her personality changes to suit the relevant culture. I can tell if she has been speaking Cantonese because she gets very aggressive. I think the behaviour is independent of language because sometimes she forgets to switch.

Sometimes I can have an epileptic seizure which causes me to remember spoken words in English, but this is kind of a replay from memory. I can also experience feelings which have no associated words because they were generated by a seizure. These feelings have no relationship to language.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33506960)

TFA.

They fist trained the system by having the person speak the word many times. This was repeated for 10 words.

Then they tryed to guess the word without listening, but just by reading the sensors.

So the system works when "calibrated" to that mind This simply puts the language problem aside. They associated certain electrical inputs in that brian to the word yes uttered by the mouth operated by that brian.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507038)

Like you say, it looks at the part of the brain that controls a person's mouth, lips, tongue. So it's reading how you think the actual mechanism of speech, how you move your mouth for the words.
It would be interesting to see if the brain waves for 'yes', 'no' etc. were similar in speakers of the same language, b/c the basic mouth movements are the same...

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

migloo (671559) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507248)

You think you think in English but I think you think in Mentalese just like everyone else.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (2, Informative)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33508044)

Technically, this is not reading, as in understanding, the speech centers. It's simply pattern matching. The speech center has a certain pattern of signals right before enunciating. A computer is trained to recognize that pattern and choose the appropriate word from a list.

Such a system would not be able to speak words that are not in it's training dictionary.

Moreover, the real flaw that I see is that this implementation requires that the subject actually be able to speak so that the system can be trained. There is no indication from this study or any other study that I know of to suggest that the patterns in one individual's brain would match the patterns in another individual's brain for the same situation. In fact, all current evidence is to the contrary. Everyone's brain is "wired" slightly differently and uses different synaptic patterns to accomplish the same actions.

I'm not tryhing to belittle the study, but as usual, there's a lot more hype and excitement than is justified...

The real philosophical issue.... (4, Insightful)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506736)

is when you read their words, and they just say "kill me"

Re:The real philosophical issue.... (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506898)

...and, after pulling the plug, their last brainwaves scream "That was just a pop-cultural reference meant as a joke, you stup..."

Re:The real philosophical issue.... (3, Funny)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507048)

is when you read their words, and they just say "kill me"

"Brad, take a look at this...there's an 86% chance Mr. Pike's first word here is 'blow,' and a 14% chance it's 'kill'. Now what?"

*long pause*

*frantic beeping*

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506868)

I hope they don't apply that on me. I almost only think about sex the whole day.

Re:Philosophical issue arises (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33516118)

Supposedly this would be equivalent to a magical Babelfish translator, since brain waves cannot be language specific. However, the existance of a meta-language behind all the many different human languages of the world has never been conclusively proven. Therefore I think something is fishy with the claim.

But if the claim is true, the possibilities are staggering. Not just for stroke patients, but for anyone. Imagine being able to travel to any country and speak in their native language. It may still be a few years away, but I think it's really cool. And would it be possible to transmit thoughts that aren't even expressible in any human language? This really does sound like an exciting beginning. I remember attending a lecture by Freeman Dyson many years ago where he proposed something similar.

scary (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506548)

how long before this evolves into something that can be used (after training the machine with direct interogation) to steal secrets from people's minds?

I mean... the movie just came out this summer.

Re:scary (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506568)

Well, it's hooked up to your speech centre so it won't really be able to read your secrets unless you think them out loud with sensors attached directly to your brain.

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33506576)

We already can :-)
I actually could roll a non-invasive solution in under 10K
I need about 10 mil in human time to design, output product would be sub 10K with no new processes required to produce, taiwan semi && foxconn could manufacture

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510678)

shut up
seriously, just shut the fuck up

Re:scary (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506602)

Eat the Donut. Eat the donut. Eat the Donut. Eat the donut. Eat the Donut.

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509864)

21

Here come the 4Chan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33506714)

I think there is a reason why in the Book of Revelation why there is a place where the people are constantly chanting "Holy... Holy... Holy... Holy..." as though they were trying to avert from their thoughts being read by the minions employed by the Beast of Revelation. Maybe they were saying "Holy Shit" but censors didn't allow that kind of word.

I can see 4Chan armies employing this to allow their threats alot more intersting over the phone, or maybe they'll use it as an IP Tunnel over landline-Voice phone call to proxy-control remote terminals to appear to subversive government authorities as nothing more than a big infomercial.

Re:Here come the 4Chan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33506994)

uuuuuuuhhhhh what the hell are you... what are... why... what does this have to do.... just go smoke your bowl and go back to b
your kind just makes no sense over here

Re:scary (2, Funny)

stalkedlongtime (1630997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507788)

Uh, the intelligence sector is way ahead of what the public gets to read about. They've had it for some time.

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33512254)

Yeah, their machine is called the "rubber hose".

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From TFA: (2, Insightful)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506590)

It uses "not new" technology to select words with 50% accuracy from a list such as "yes" and "no"...really. (Okay, it hits 90% accuracy with only two items and goes down to 48% with 10.)

In other news, you can use P300 responses picked up with a $300 off-the-shelf over-the-hair EEG receiver to select from a grid of visual stimuli at a pretty good rate and with something like 95%+ accuracy (presumably nearly 100% with the sort of training that goes into touchscreen or voice activated interfaces). Those items can be letters, words, pictures...whatever. Anything quickly recognizable. Congrats guys, you just invented a crappy version of something I can buy for $300 which requires cutting open the person's skull and implanting things on the surface of their brain.

FYI, to whoever funded this, please give the lab I work at the grant monies next time. We'll make much better use of it.

Re:From TFA: (2, Funny)

somecoffeemug (1680420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506612)

an 95% accuracy with only one word :)

Re:From TFA: (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506912)

Yes!

Re:From TFA: (1)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507250)

"Steve"

or "Gummy Bear"..but that is two words.

Re:From TFA: (1)

error_frey (1665467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506620)

what about the speed of recognition? Give them some time, if they can improve the accuracy this approach could be interesting..

Re:From TFA: (4, Insightful)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506654)

P300 is typically 300ms (thus the name), and the technique I was referring to uses two responses to generate a match (it flashes rows and columns so you need an X and Y response). 600ms or thereabouts is thus the time to beat. It's not lightning fast - nothing like typing - but a whole hell of a lot better than the reference methods that they're referring to. They're solving a brain-computer interface problem that was solved 10 years ago, and that was made irrelevant several years ago when cheap neural interfaces started hitting the commercial commodity market.

Of course this is all relying on TFA, which could be completely misrepresenting their research given the general high quality of modern science journalism.

Also, earlier kidding aside, the article is probably completely missing the point. It is likely that the actual purpose of the research is NOT to develop the current prototype's functionality. It is more likely that it is exploring the ability to take, reduce, and analyze data of this type. The fact that you can build (buy off-the-shelf for peanuts) a BCI whose functionality is equal to or greater than their prototype using less invasive methods is probably completely beside the point.

Re:From TFA: (1)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510494)

They're solving a brain-computer interface problem that was solved 10 years ago, and that was made irrelevant several years ago when cheap neural interfaces started hitting the commercial commodity market.

solved problem, neural interfaces in the commodity market - sounds like you're living a hundred years ahead of us :) But seriously - I haven't been following the field - can you provide some references for the current advances?

Re:From TFA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33513586)

Using P300 is a common technique for brain-computer interfaces now, you can just google "P300 BCI" and get quite a bit. The Emotiv headset is quite versatile and can pick up P300 easily (although the $750 research package will let you do a lot more than the $300 commercial package). Off-the-shelf commercial EEG is a fairly new thing, and for insurance reasons isn't making quite the waves in medical and assistive areas that it could be.

Re:From TFA: (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506942)

It uses "not new" technology to select words with 50% accuracy from a list such as "yes" and "no"...really. (Okay, it hits 90% accuracy with only two items and goes down to 48% with 10.)

In other news, you can use P300 responses picked up with a $300 off-the-shelf over-the-hair EEG receiver to select from a grid of visual stimuli at a pretty good rate and with something like 95%+ accuracy (presumably nearly 100% with the sort of training that goes into touchscreen or voice activated interfaces). Those items can be letters, words, pictures...whatever. Anything quickly recognizable. Congrats guys, you just invented a crappy version of something I can buy for $300 which requires cutting open the person's skull and implanting things on the surface of their brain.

FYI, to whoever funded this, please give the lab I work at the grant monies next time. We'll make much better use of it.

no yes no yes no yes no no no yes yes no yes no no no no yes yes no no no no yes no yes yes yes no yes no no no no yes no no yes yes yes no yes yes no yes yes no no no yes yes no yes yes no no no no yes no no no no no no yes yes no no yes no no no yes yes no yes yes yes yes

Re:From TFA: (1)

cparker15 (779546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509936)

It uses "not new" technology to select words with 50% accuracy from a list such as "yes" and "no"...really. (Okay, it hits 90% accuracy with only two items and goes down to 48% with 10.)

In other news, you can use P300 responses picked up with a $300 off-the-shelf over-the-hair EEG receiver to select from a grid of visual stimuli at a pretty good rate and with something like 95%+ accuracy (presumably nearly 100% with the sort of training that goes into touchscreen or voice activated interfaces). Those items can be letters, words, pictures...whatever. Anything quickly recognizable. Congrats guys, you just invented a crappy version of something I can buy for $300 which requires cutting open the person's skull and implanting things on the surface of their brain.

FYI, to whoever funded this, please give the lab I work at the grant monies next time. We'll make much better use of it.

no yes no yes no yes no no no yes yes no yes no no no no yes yes no no no no yes no yes yes yes no yes no no no no yes no no yes yes yes no yes yes no yes yes no no no yes yes no yes yes no no no no yes no no no no no no yes yes no no yes no no no yes yes no yes yes yes yes

no yes no yes no no yes no no yes yes no no yes no yes no yes yes no no no no yes no yes yes no yes yes no no no yes yes no yes yes no no no yes yes yes yes no no yes no no yes yes yes yes yes yes

Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition.

Re:From TFA: (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33523022)

It uses "not new" technology to select words with 50% accuracy from a list such as "yes" and "no"...really. (Okay, it hits 90% accuracy with only two items and goes down to 48% with 10.)

In other news, you can use P300 responses picked up with a $300 off-the-shelf over-the-hair EEG receiver to select from a grid of visual stimuli at a pretty good rate and with something like 95%+ accuracy (presumably nearly 100% with the sort of training that goes into touchscreen or voice activated interfaces). Those items can be letters, words, pictures...whatever. Anything quickly recognizable. Congrats guys, you just invented a crappy version of something I can buy for $300 which requires cutting open the person's skull and implanting things on the surface of their brain.

FYI, to whoever funded this, please give the lab I work at the grant monies next time. We'll make much better use of it.

no yes no yes no yes no no no yes yes no yes no no no no yes yes no no no no yes no yes yes yes no yes no no no no yes no no yes yes yes no yes yes no yes yes no no no yes yes no yes yes no no no no yes no no no no no no yes yes no no yes no no no yes yes no yes yes yes yes

no yes no yes no no yes no no yes yes no no yes no yes no yes yes no no no no yes no yes yes no yes yes no no no yes yes no yes yes no no no yes yes yes yes no no yes no no yes yes yes yes yes yes

Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition.

no yes no yes yes no no yes no yes no no no no no yes no no yes no no yes yes yes no yes no yes no no yes no no yes no no yes yes no no no yes no yes yes no no yes no no yes no no no no yes

Re:From TFA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33507052)

I am an AC, so I won't see your reply......
I posted earlier in this, you might have seen it as the taiwan semi and foxconn manufactured solution

OK I know you can do the reading with the over the hair eeg receiver.
Now take this to the next level........add phasing and intensitiy of brainactivity to the capture and build a virtual model in dram cells :-)
to accurately do the phasing and intensity you need to go low level with the silicon, with a sample rate significantly higher than the brain itself as it is asynchronously clocked
so with a few hundred sensors, and dma of some sort to write a 3d map of brain electrical activity
let the silicon map the signals......i believe when this is done in the analog hardware realm with digital for storage this will get interesting

Re:From TFA: (1)

anotheryak (1823894) | more than 3 years ago | (#33508260)

This has nothing to do with an EEG. This is proof-of-concept for using a micromachined array. The fact that the LA Times article did not understand it should not surprise you.

Re:From TFA: (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33508724)

there's no politics like academic politics. and from supposedly refined and non-confrontational people. graduate studies are imo heavily burdened with passive aggression and backstabbing training.

Dasher (2, Insightful)

Two99Point80 (542678) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506614)

These folks [cam.ac.uk] have something which is easier to control.

No News is... A Waste of Space (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506674)

The technology is 100+ years old and has been used for 80 on human brain waves.

Almost 20 years ago, work at Radford was able to guess with 70 to 80 percent accuracy which of three possibilities within three parameters (size, shape and color) was being looked at, or being imagined with and without there being an attempt to verbalize it. They used a standard 16 channel external EEG. And a dozen different subjects.

Which "speech center(s)"? There's two main regions, neither of which can do the job alone. There's the areas where the material to be translated into speech get placed, and they can be read without having to try to work around linguistic encoding. Then there's people who lose their entire speech area, but come out being able to speak anyway because of backup/trainable areas taking over the job, or simply doing it in parallel all along.

You've got to have a damn good reason to carve open a skull. Surgical correction for epilepsy is a good reason, but the brain being tested before and after the surgery is hardly one to draw generalizations from. Given that previous work bested this without cutting into anyone, this is a dead end stunt.

There is also existing technology that would do the vocalizing job, also without surgery. Adapting it to an input based on a neural net 'best guess' output after training on an individual would be trivial compared to cutting open heads. Millions of people have heard it work, on a Pink Floyd album: "For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened to unleash the powers of his imagination -- he learned to talk." Many millions more have heard the same person/voice narrating the video version of his book "A Brief History Of Time".

TFA is some scary shit. With all the alternatives available, safer, better AND cheaper, there's no reason to do stuff like this, and none at all to suggest that it should be used as a basis to develop a technology.

Re:No News is... A Waste of Space (3, Interesting)

telomerewhythere (1493937) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507010)

Which "speech center(s)"? There's two main regions, neither of which can do the job alone.

Both.... From another article: "Each of two grids with 16 microECoGs spaced 1 millimeter (about one-25th of an inch) apart, was placed over one of two speech areas of the brain: First, the facial motor cortex, which controls movements of the mouth, lips, tongue and face -- basically the muscles involved in speaking. Second, Wernicke's area, a little understood part of the human brain tied to language comprehension and understanding."

"One unexpected finding: When the patient repeated words, the facial motor cortex was most active and Wernicke's area was less active. Yet Wernicke's area "lit up" when the patient was thanked by researchers after repeating words. It shows Wernicke's area is more involved in high-level understanding of language, while the facial motor cortex controls facial muscles that help produce sounds, Greger says."

As to the scary part, just wait till they get to the next step: 11x11 grids and not just 4x4

Source for this info: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907071249.htm [sciencedaily.com]

Re:No News is... A Waste of Space (1)

SiMac (409541) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507412)

The technology is 100+ years old and has been used for 80 on human brain waves.

Almost 20 years ago, work at Radford was able to guess with 70 to 80 percent accuracy which of three possibilities within three parameters (size, shape and color) was being looked at, or being imagined with and without there being an attempt to verbalize it. They used a standard 16 channel external EEG. And a dozen different subjects.

I think the point here is that they are NOT using an EEG. They are using what are called "Utah arrays," which are a relatively new technological advance even for monkey electrophysiologists, and this is one of the first times they have ever been implanted in a human brain. This is a new technology, if not a new application.

Also, being able to distinguish size, shape, and color is not really a substitute for being able to communicate. People have had electrodes implanted in motor cortex to substitute for missing arms, etc. and that worked pretty well, but this is the first time anyone has (intentionally) implanted an electrode array in human speech areas to my knowledge.

You've got to have a damn good reason to carve open a skull. Surgical correction for epilepsy is a good reason, but the brain being tested before and after the surgery is hardly one to draw generalizations from. Given that previous work bested this without cutting into anyone, this is a dead end stunt.

The figures reported in the article are accuracy for selecting one of 10 words, where chance would be 10%. The figures you report are accuracy for 3 tasks, where chance would be 33%.

TFA is some scary shit. With all the alternatives available, safer, better AND cheaper, there's no reason to do stuff like this, and none at all to suggest that it should be used as a basis to develop a technology.

If you worked with a surface EEG, and then did single neuron electrophysiology, you would realize pretty quickly what the reason is. There is a pretty low ceiling for accuracy of any single-trial EEG approach because of the noise in the technique. It turns out that if you put an electrode directly into the brain, for various reasons, your measurements are much less noisy. Even if the paper in question has not succeeded in doing the decoding in a way that actually makes this useful, it is theoretically possible to make this work, whereas with EEG, you would still be limited to choosing from a very small number of alternatives.

Waves into words (1)

16Chapel (998683) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506680)

Do WWWWWWW and MMMMMMMMMMMM count as words?

Modelling (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506716)

Lets say you have the high resolution EEG grid they talk about and you control the input to the brain by isolating normal senses and feeding in specific stimuli. Keep it running for a couple of weeks. Might be easy if the patient/subject is elderly and sick.

Can I build a model of the brain between the stimuli and the EEG? Can I use this to make a copy of the brain at a functional level?

Re:Modelling (4, Insightful)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33506740)

To translate your query into a more IT-intelligible analogue, can you build a model of the internet by posting random things to Slashdot and then watching Google Trends?

Re:Modelling (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507298)

@MichaelSmith, I guess that would be a "no". But what does "copying the brain" have anything to do with anything?

However, training the brain and using an eeg apparently allows you to reconstruct images of what the person is thinking/remembering, as seen in a recent episode of House. [hulu.com]

If I recall correctly the technique was discussed on slashdot recently, though I couldn't find the article.

Re:Modelling (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507330)

No! The analogy needs cars! Where are the cars?

Re:Modelling (1)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507450)

Can you build a map by supplying a fleet of cars with random control inputs and then observing accident statistics?

Politicians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33507064)

If these electrodes were mandatory for politicians during debates, it would be the end of the world. But at least we would have a good laugh.

you call this weather? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33507104)

"ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. – A Hardin County farmer said that some ears among his feed corn rows popped on the stalk in a phenomenon that agricultural experts believe is associated with irregular rainfall and high heat.
Star Mills farmer Patrick Preston sent a photo of the burst kernels that look like partially popped popcorn to the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
Hardin County Extension agent Doug Shepherd told The News Enterprise he's never seen popped kernels before."

Indistinguishable from magic... (5, Insightful)

sheriff_p (138609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507234)

This + cellphone technology + in-ear speaker = telepathy

Re:Indistinguishable from magic... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509136)

While I never believed that telepathy existed in humans, as a youth, I always found it odd that telepathy was considered impossible. You are right, although if you were going to make a brain reader, you should be able to make a writer that doesn't require an in ear speaker. The real trick that is still total sci-fi would be to splice up our genes so that we deposit whatever materials are necessary to make the radio reader/writer naturally in our bodies.

Re:Indistinguishable from magic... (1)

arcsimm (1084173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509244)

Why the speaker? If you're going to implant electrode grids on the cortex, why not go whole-hog and put one on the hearing center?

Re:Indistinguishable from magic... (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509984)

This + cellphone technology + in-ear speaker = telepathy

Also indistinguishable from schizophrenia.

Also also indistinguishable from mind control.

I don't think I could ever trust a cell phone company enough to give them direct neural access.

Your Credentials Please (0, Redundant)

dgower2 (1487929) | more than 3 years ago | (#33507326)

While reading all the posts on here, I'm always curious to know the posters' backgrounds. Are you a MD? A university level professor? A plumber who dabbles in particle physics in his/her spare time, etc. I think everyone should finish their posts with their credentials : ) I have a BS in CISM and support regulatory software in Pharmaceutical companies. Not that anyone cares since this is non-informational, but I would have felt like a hypocrite if I didn't ; )

Dolphins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509114)

We're only a decade from the talking dolphin from seaquest at this rate. Can't wait!

Great for interrogation (1)

junglebeast (1497399) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509206)

I can see this being used to interrogate POWs!

Related device (1)

UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) | more than 3 years ago | (#33515796)

I recall reading about a device that could analyze a combination of brain waves and just-under-the-skin neural impulses to interpret sub-vocalized speech. This new thing does not sound much better and is invasive as well. (Unfortunately, I have had no luck finding an authoritative source about the sub-vocal device.)

soon... (1)

polux2001 (774606) | more than 3 years ago | (#33518424)

...blowjob and telepathic dirty talk at the same time!

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