What is really going on? - Contactees almost always say that the strange beings they meet "talk inside their heads," and some of them have implants as well. Is this how ET does it? In an early step toward letting severely paralyzed people speak with their thoughts, researchers translated brain signals into words using two grids of 16 microelectrodes implanted beneath the skull but atop the brain. Alien implants (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show) are rarely found in the head, but are usually in the leg or foot, but alien technology may be superior to ours and give off signals that can travel from the lower limbs to the brain.
Bioengineer Bradley Greger says, "We have been able to decode spoken words using only signals from the brain with a device that has promise for long-term use in paralyzed patients who cannot now speak." His research team placed grids of tiny microelectrodes over speech centers in the brain of a volunteer with severe epileptic seizures. The man already had a craniotomy (a temporary partial skull removal), so doctors could place larger, conventional electrodes to locate the source of his seizures and surgically stop them.
Using the experimental microelectrodes, the scientists recorded brain signals as the patient repeatedly read each of 10 words that might be useful to a paralyzed person: yes, no, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, hello, goodbye, more and less. Later, they tried figuring out which brain signals represented each of the 10 words. When they compared any two brain signals, such as those generated when the man said the words "yes" and "no," they were able to distinguish brain signals for each word 76 to 90% of the time.
Greger says, "We've proven these signals can tell you what the person is saying well above chance. But we need to be able to do more words with more accuracy before it is something a patient really might find useful." People who eventually could benefit from a wireless device that converts thoughts into computer-spoken spoken words include those paralyzed by stroke, Lou Gehrig's disease and trauma. People who are now "locked in" often communicate with any movement they can make, such as blinking an eye or moving a hand slightly, to arduously pick letters or words from a list.
But scientists shouldn't work these people's brains too hard: It turns out that our brains need a rest from all that digital input in order to digest and retain the information we've received.
Researchers have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But it's only when the rats take a break that they process those patterns in a way that turns them into a memory, and scientists think this is also how humans learn.
In the August 24th edition of the New York Times, Matt Richtel quotes physiologist Loren Frank as saying, "Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it
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