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mind reading? Researchers have developed a method that will allow us to know what we are going to say before we speak

Individual neurons could recognize, for example, when we are about to touch our tongue to our palate to say the letter D * This will enable the development of prostheses for those suffering from speech problems

Reading thoughts before they become words. The figure was prepared using DALEE software after reading the article.
Reading thoughts before they become words. The figure was prepared using DALEE software after reading the article.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have used advanced brain recording methods to reveal the pattern of neuronal cooperation in the human brain that allows people to put their thoughts into words and express them out loud. The research, published in the journal Nature, offers a glimpse into the process of creation and verbal expression of thoughts, revealing the early planning of speech sounds before they are uttered.

The researchers used highly advanced devices called Neuropixels, which are able to record the activity of individual neurons in the prefrontal cortex, a frontal area of ​​the human brain. They identified cells that are involved in language production and that may be the basis of the ability to speak. Separate groups of neurons in the brain dedicated to speaking and listening have been found.

The use of neuropixels, performed for the first time at MGH, allows an unprecedented glimpse into how neurons work together in humans and how they work together to produce complex human behaviors such as language.

The research showed how neurons in the brain represent some of the basic elements involved in building spoken words - from simple speech sounds called phonemes to assembling them into more complex strings like syllables. For example, the consonant "da", produced by the tongue touching the palate, is necessary to produce the word dog. By recording individual neurons, the researchers found that certain neurons become active before that phoneme is spoken aloud. Other neurons reflected more complex aspects of word construction, such as the specific assembly of phonemes into syllables.

Using their technology, the researchers demonstrated that it is possible to reliably determine the speech sounds people will say before they utter them. In other words, the scientists can predict what combination of consonants and vowels will be produced before the words are actually spoken. This ability can be used to build artificial brain prostheses or brain-machine interfaces capable of producing synthetic speech, which can benefit a wide variety of patients.

"Disruptions in the speech and language networks are observed in a wide variety of neurological disorders - including stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumors, neurodegenerative disorders, neurological developmental disorders, and more," says Arjun Khanna, research partner. "Our hope is that a better understanding of the basic neural circuits that enable speech and language will pave the way for the development of treatments for these disorders."

The researchers hope to expand their research by studying more complex language processes that will allow them to study how people choose the words they intend to say and how the brain puts words together into sentences that communicate people's thoughts and feelings to others.

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