Artificial Intelligence can Now Recognize Words Directly from Brain Waves

Artificial Intelligence can Now Recognize Words Directly from Brain Waves

Artificial Intelligence can Now Recognize Words Directly from Brain Waves
Image Credit: PsyPost

Scientists show that the conversion of brain waves into sound files can help us develop mind-reading devices.

Mind reading using computer devices is here! Well, almost. And it’s not all that invasive and useless as initially thought. According to three recently published studies, the pattern of neurons firing can be used to output audio directly from brain waves. The success rates ranged from a depressing 40% to a rather promising 80%. Scientists believe that there are enough positive signs to explore this technology even more because it has a number of advantages in the long run.

Brain Waves were Converted to Sound Files

Researchers were able to convert brain waves into somewhat correct sound files by placing the electrodes directly on the brain as the brain-surgery patients listened to or spoke certain words. In each of these studies, electrodes intercept neuromuscular signals (sent by the brain to the face), which were then matched with previously-stored signals. The first study was conducted by the researchers from Columbia University and Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. During this study, brain waves of 5 patients with epilepsy were recorded as stories and numbers were read out to them. These recorded signals were then fed into a neural network, which showed that 75% correct sound files were generated.

The second test was carried out by an international team of researchers. The participants of this study included the patients that were undergoing tumor surgeries. They read certain words aloud. The gathered data was inserted into a neural system and the generated sound files had a success rate of 40%. The third test (carried out at the University of California) involved three patients with epilepsy, who read text aloud. The recorded signals were interpreted by the neural network correctly 80% of the time.

These are not the only tests carried out for “mind-reading” technology. Japanese researchers at the University of Kyoto are developing a neural network system that uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recognize brain waves based on blood flow to the brain. Likewise, researchers at the University of Toronto are using Electroencephalogram (EEG) along with AI to produce rather blurry, but visible reconstructions of what the test subjects saw. The show doesn’t end here though as Purdue University is developing a similar algorithm to use alongside fMRI to recognize brain waves and to translate them into a readable format.

The Challenges

The researches have shown that there will be ways to somehow connect the human brain with computers in the future. However, there are certain hurdles along the way. The translated signals converted into sound vary from person to person, so the neural network must be configured for every person separately. Similarly, the electrodes have to be placed on the brain directly for optimal signal reception. Such invasive technologies have limited uses in the world due to social and ethical implications.


Since the research is in its initial stages, there are certain flaws in it. All three types of research show promising results but in all three cases, the patients could speak for the computer to configure itself. Trying it on a person unable to speak would be a completely different story. That is the real challenge. To complicate the process even further, translating brain waves between actual speaking and thinkingare two completely different things. The “mind reading” device, however, is not available for public use due to obvious reasons. On top of that, the ridiculous look of the device makes sure that no one is interested in wearing that in public.

Uses of Mind Reading from Brain Waves

A fair number of uses for the technology are planned if the device improves over time. For example, music volume could be turned down without interacting with the music controls in any way. It could be used together with input devices, such as mouse or stylus, to improve accuracy even further. Moving aside from the scientific stuff, neurotechnology is being implemented into video games by a startup called ‘Neurable’. In a game called ‘Awakening’, players will be able to interact with objects and throw them around just by using their thoughts alone.

The possibilities are endless! Soon, Virtual Reality (VR) will be combined with brain reading tech to create new amazing technologies. For instance, the HTC Vive VR headset may include eye tracking and brain waves monitoring in its future models. Nissan is expected to integrate neurotechnology in its vehicles. The IMx KURO concept car already comes with its own EEG headset. This may improve reaction time for drivers as they will only think of applying brakes and the car will do it for them. Will these mind-reading devices turn to reality or will it be just another novelty?  Only time can tell!

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