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Scientists find a way to hear patients' thoughts without them speaking

Scientists find a way to hear patients' thoughts without them speaking

Research could lead to implant that translates thoughts into words

"Did I say that out loud?"

Many of us have asked this at one time or another, wondering if we have just thought something or actually spoken it out loud.

Now, scientists have used this phenomenon to make an exciting discovery. A team of scientists in America have been able to recreate audible words that volunteers have only imagined by decoding the electrical activity in their brains. The researchers, from the University of California, Berkeley, say they may one day be able to use their discovery to hear people's thoughts.

"There is some evidence that hearing the sound and imagining the sound activate similar areas of the brain," explains Brian Pasley, one of the scientists.

The words Waldo, structure, doubt and property were played to volunteers whose brains were wired up to a computer. The computer was able to recognise the words from the brain waves and then translate them into sounds and play them back.

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Recording brainwaves

Another professor from the project, Robert Knight, said that this could be great news for people whose speech has been damaged due to a stroke or paralysis. "If you could eventually reconstruct imagined conversations from brain activity, thousands of people could benefit," he said.

The NHS website Behind the Headlines says: ""This exciting and new research does raise the prospect of brain activity one day being translated into words using an implant. Such technology could help the vast numbers of people suffering from problems affecting speech.

"But it is important to recognise that this research is in its very early stages and a clinically effective implant is likely to be a long way off."

It is mind-boggling to think how else this technique could be used. Should criminals be worried? Could police in the future forget about interviews and just plug suspects into a computer and listen to their minds? What about school - no need to respond to your teacher, the computer could detect your answers!

Maybe we should all start practising having thoughts that we would be happy for others to eavesdrop on…

Based on an article from The Daily What News

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