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Speech intention can be decoded from brainwaves

UC Berkeley scientists have demonstrated a method to reconstruct words that a person may be thinking, by examining brainwaves using fMRI. The technique reported in PLoS Biology relies on gathering electrical signals directly from patients’ brains, via implanted electrodes. Computer models reconstructed words/sounds from the signal patterns.

Although the possible uses include helping comatose, locked-in patients, or the speech-impaired to communicate, concerns have been raised that the method could be used for interrogation. fMRI has already been used by federal law enforcement agencies to detect signs of deception in detained suspects.