Jaimie Henderson, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
A high-performance speech neuroprosthesis.
Speech brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) have the potential to restore rapid communication to people with paralysis by decoding neural activity evoked by attempted speech into text1,2 or sound3,4. Early demonstrations, although promising, have not yet achieved accuracies sufficiently high for communication of unconstrained sentences from a large vocabulary1-7. Here we demonstrate a speech-to-text BCI that records spiking activity from intracortical microelectrode arrays. Enabled by these high-resolution recordings, our study participant-who can no longer speak intelligibly owing to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-achieved a 9.1% word error rate on a 50-word vocabulary (2.7 times fewer errors than the previous state-of-the-art speech BCI2) and a 23.8% word error rate on a 125,000-word vocabulary (the first successful demonstration, to our knowledge, of large-vocabulary decoding). Our participant's attempted speech was decoded at 62 words per minute, which is 3.4 times as fast as the previous record8 and begins to approach the speed of natural conversation (160 words per minute9). Finally, we highlight two aspects of the neural code for speech that are encouraging for speech BCIs: spatially intermixed tuning to speech articulators that makes accurate decoding possible from only a small region of cortex, and a detailed articulatory representation of phonemes that persists years after paralysis. These results show a feasible path forward for restoring rapid communication to people with paralysis who can no longer speak.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06377-x
View details for PubMedID 37612500
View details for PubMedCentralID 4464168
Decoding spoken English from intracortical electrode arrays in dorsal precentral gyrus.
Journal of neural engineering
2020; 17 (6): 066007
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the potential of intracortical electrode array signals for brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to restore lost speech, we measured the performance of decoders trained to discriminate a comprehensive basis set of 39 English phonemes and to synthesize speech sounds via a neural pattern matching method. We decoded neural correlates of spoken-out-loud words in the 'hand knob' area of precentral gyrus, a step toward the eventual goal of decoding attempted speech from ventral speech areas in patients who are unable to speak.APPROACH: Neural and audio data were recorded while two BrainGate2 pilot clinical trial participants, each with two chronically-implanted 96-electrode arrays, spoke 420 different words that broadly sampled English phonemes. Phoneme onsets were identified from audio recordings, and their identities were then classified from neural features consisting of each electrode's binned action potential counts or high-frequency local field potential power. Speech synthesis was performed using the 'Brain-to-Speech' pattern matching method. We also examined two potential confounds specific to decoding overt speech: acoustic contamination of neural signals and systematic differences in labeling different phonemes' onset times.MAIN RESULTS: A linear decoder achieved up to 29.3% classification accuracy (chance = 6%) across 39 phonemes, while an RNN classifier achieved 33.9% accuracy. Parameter sweeps indicated that performance did not saturate when adding more electrodes or more training data, and that accuracy improved when utilizing time-varying structure in the data. Microphonic contamination and phoneme onset differences modestly increased decoding accuracy, but could be mitigated by acoustic artifact subtraction and using a neural speech onset marker, respectively. Speech synthesis achieved r = 0.523 correlation between true and reconstructed audio.SIGNIFICANCE: The ability to decode speech using intracortical electrode array signals from a nontraditional speech area suggests that placing electrode arrays in ventral speech areas is a promising direction for speech BCIs.
View details for DOI 10.1088/1741-2552/abbfef
View details for PubMedID 33236720
Neural ensemble dynamics in dorsal motor cortex during speech in people with paralysis.
Speaking is a sensorimotor behavior whose neural basis is difficult to study with single neuron resolution due to the scarcity of human intracortical measurements. We used electrode arrays to record from the motor cortex 'hand knob' in two people with tetraplegia, an area not previously implicated in speech. Neurons modulated during speaking and during non-speaking movements of the tongue, lips, and jaw. This challenges whether the conventional model of a 'motor homunculus' division by major body regions extends to the single-neuron scale. Spoken words and syllables could be decoded from single trials, demonstrating the potential of intracortical recordings for brain-computer interfaces to restore speech. Two neural population dynamics features previously reported for arm movements were also present during speaking: a component that was mostly invariant across initiating different words, followed by rotatory dynamics during speaking. This suggests that common neural dynamical motifs may underlie movement of arm and speech articulators.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.46015
View details for PubMedID 31820736