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Cerebral Palsy: New Device Produces Sounds by Analyzing a Person's Brain

First Posted: Jul 11, 2015 09:04 PM EDT

Scientists have managed to create a new device that may have some major implications for those with disabilities. The device can actually analyze a person's brain signals and produce sounds.

"At the neuroscientific level, our challenge with Brain Polyphony is to be able to correctly identify the EEG signals-that is, the brain activity-that correspond to certain emotions," said Mara Dierssen, one of the researchers, in a news release. "The idea is to translate this activity into sound and then to use this system to allow people with disabilities to communicate with the people around them. This alternative communication system based on sonification could be useful not only for patient rehabilitation but also for additional applications, such as diagnosis. Of course, the technological and computational aspects are also challenging."

Unlike other existing systems, Brain Polyphony allows people to directly "hear" brain waves. Essentially, the project aims to identify a recognizable pattern for each human emotion that can then be translated into code words.

The device has been testing with healthy people in the past. Most recent tests, though, have focused on people with disabilities.

"The mere fact that we are able to hear our brains 'talk' is a complex and interesting experience," said Efrain Foglia, one of the researchers, in a news release. "With Brain Polyphony, we are able to hear the music that is broadcast directly from the brain. This is a new form of communication that will take on a unique dimension if it can also allow us to enable people with cerebral palsy to communicate."

The new device could be huge for people with disabilities. That said, more testing needs to be done before they're utilized.

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