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Researchers have successfully given a paralyzed man the ability to speak in full sentences again through the use of a “speech prosthesis.” The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) researchers developed a technology with the help of a clinic trial patient that builds upon years of prior research conducted by UCSF neurosurgeon Dr. Edward Chang. Their findings were published on July 15 in the New England Journal of Medicine. “To our knowledge, this is the first successful demonstration of direct decoding of full words from the brain activity of someone who is paralyzed and cannot speak,” Chang, the chair of neurological surgery at UCSF and senior author on the study, said in a press release. The first trial participant, BRAVO1, was a male in his late 30s who had lost his ability to speak after suffering a brainstem stroke over 15 years ago. He helped researchers build a 50-word vocabulary that Chang’s team could recognize based on his brain activity patterns. The vocabulary included words such as “water,” “family,” and “good” and allowed BRAVO1 to communicate hundreds of relevant sentences.

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