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英文和訳です

Dr. Frank Guenther is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies speech production, speech perception, and sensory-motor control. He and his team helped a completely paralyzed but conscious patient communicate with the use of brain sensors. First, the researchers watched the patient’s brain activity by using functional MRI (fMRI) as he tried to say certain vowels. Next, they implanted an electrode into the part of the man’s brain that deals with speech production. The electrode can sense brain activity very quickly and transmit it instantaneously to a machine that can show which vowels the patient is thinking about. After more vowels and consonants are added to the list of understood letters, it is hoped that the patient will be able to communicate whole words to the researchers. Other projects have used electrodes to allow a paralyzed person to move a robotic arm, but this is the first project to have a specifically designed brain-computer interface for speech. A future patient may have additional electrodes implanted so that more information can be transmitted from the speech-production area of the brain to the researchers, leading to deeper communication. よろしくお願いします^^;

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フランク・ギュンター博士は、音声生成、音声知覚、ならびに感覚運動制御を 研究する認知神経科学者である。 彼と彼のチームは、脳センサの利用により、完全に麻痺してはいるが意識のあ る患者が意思伝達することを可能にした。 まず、研究者らは、患者が特定の母音を発しようとする際の脳の活動を、機能 的 MRI (fMRI) を使用して観察した。 次に、脳の音声生成をつかさどる部分に電極を挿入した。 この電極は極めて迅速に脳の活動を感知し、その情報を、患者が思い浮かべた 母音が何であるかを表示できる機械に瞬時にして送信することができる。 理解可能な文字のリストにさらに多くの母音と子音が加われば、患者が単語単 位で研究者に意思を伝えることが可能になると期待される。 電極を使用することで麻痺患者がロボット・アームを動かせるようになるプロ ジェクトもこれまでにはあったが、特別に設計した脳-コンピュータ・インタ フェイスを擁するプロジェクトは、これがはじめてである。 将来的には、患者に挿入する電極を増やすことで、脳の音声発生野から研究者 により多くの情報を送ることができるようになり、意思の疎通が深まることも 考えられる。

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    An electrode implanted into the brain of a man who is unable to move or communicate has enabled him to use a speech synthesizer to produce vowel sounds as he thinks them. The work could one day help similar patients to produce whole sentences using signals from their brains, say the researchers. Frank Guenther of Boston University in Massachusetts and his colleagues worked with a patient who has locked-in syndrome, a condition in which patients are almost completely paralysed ― often able to move only their eyelids ― but still fully conscious. Guenther and his team first had to determine whether the man’s brain could produce the same speech signals as a healthy person’s. So they scanned his brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while he attempted to say certain vowels. Once the researchers were happy that the signal were the same, they implanted an electrode ― designed by neuroscientist Philip Kennedy of the firm Neural Signals in Duluth, Georgia ― into the speech-production areas of the man’s brain. The electrode will remain there for the foreseeable future. The electrode is different to others used for brain-computer interfaces, most of which are fixed to the skull rather than within a specific part of the brain. This means that the electrodes can move around, making it difficult to record from the same neurons every time or to leave the electrode in place for more than a few months at a time. The electrode used by Guenther’s team is impregnated with neurotrophic factors, which encourage neurons to grow into and around the electrode, anchoring it in place and allowing it to be recorded from for a much longer time. 長文でスミマセンがよろしくお願いします^^;

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    Once the electrode was implanted, the team used a computer model of speech that Guenther had developed over the past 15 years to decode the signals coming from the man’s brain and discern which vowel sounds he was thinking about. Guenther presented the results at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC on 19 November. So far, the patient has been able “to produce three vowel sounds with good accuracy”, says Guenther. This happens as quickly as normal speech, he says. “The long-term goal within five years is to have him use the speech brain-computer interface to produce words directly”, Guenther says. Most of the interfaces currently being developed transmit signals from the region of the brain that controls movement to either a prosthetic arm or even, as shown by a recent study in monkeys, the subject’s own arm. According to Guenther, this is the first brain-computer interface that has been tailored for speech. よろしくお願いします^^;

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