Each year, thousands of people lose the ability to speak due to strokes, accidents, or disease. While there have been various attempts to restore speech to humans, science still has a long way to go. Edward Chang is a leading neurosurgeon and Weill Chair of Neurological Surgery at the University of California. A specialist in advanced brain mapping of language, Chang and his laboratory have demonstrated the detailed functional blueprint of the human speech cortex, and have translated those discoveries towards the development of a “speech neuroprosthesis” – a high-density electrode array implanted directly on the surface of the brain to record electrical activity. At Falling Walls, Chang shows how this device has enabled a man with severe paralysis to communicate in sentences, translating signals from his brain directly into words that appear as text on a screen. This is the first successful demonstration of direct decoding of full words from the brain activity of someone who is paralyzed.

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