An experimental device decodes signals in the man’s brain that once controlled his vocal tract.
The man is currently limited to a vocabulary of just 50 words. He communicates at a rate of about 15 words per minute, which is much slower than natural speech.
“This tells us that it’s possible,” says a neurosurgeon at the University of California, San Francisco.
A device that allows people who can’t speak to communicate using brain circuits previously used for speech would be “more natural, and hopefully effortless,” an engineer says.
The patient is the first patient in a study called BRAVO, or Brain-Computer Interface Restoration of Arm and Voice . The name refers to his status as the first person in the study called “B”.