Dec. 21st, 2009

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Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

Researchers at Boston University have demonstrated a prototype system that wirelessly transmits neural signals from an implanted electrode to a speech synthesizer with a latency of only 50 milliseconds. The electrodes were implanted into a locked-in patient 5 years ago and after 5 months the neurites had grown onto the electrode so that signal patterns could be detected. The volunteer was only able to produce three vowel sounds because only a single three-wire electrode was used, but he was able to reproduce those vowel sounds with up to 89% accuracy. Future implants would access 10 times as many neurons from multiple sites in the ventral premotor cortex  where intended speech patterns are believed to originate.
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Faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method developed

In another story from Boston University, researchers have developed a nanoscale sensor that detects DNA molecules as they pass through a 4 nanometer-wide silicon nanopore. The mouth of the nanopore is charged to attract the negatively charged DNA strands. Interestingly, the system works best with long DNA strands which could lead to much faster DNA processing. The system has also decreased by a factor of 10,000 the number of DNA molecules that must be captured so that DNA amplification may not be required, a step that can slow the detection process and introduce transcription errors.

January 2010

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