Singing in the Brain

I’m singing in the…BRAIN?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Don’t you love singing in the shower? Who CARES if anyone’s listening! But for many stroke patients, singing – or even speaking – are off the table. A stroke can cause a condition called anarthria. Patients suffering from anarthria permanently lose control over their speech muscles.

Enter David Moses and colleagues at U-C San Francisco. They may have found a way to help stroke victims regain the power of speech.

They implanted over a HUNDRED tiny disk-shaped electrodes in an anarthria patient’s brain. Over eighty weeks, the man was asked to read words on a screen — like “hungry”, “family” and “yes.” As he TRIED to say the words, the electrodes sent signals from his brain to a computer. Then, the scientists decoded the signals.

Results? Moses’s team detected speech attempts 98% of time! The researchers hope this technology can one day help patients to better communicate after a stroke. 

Singing in the brain? Sure! Shower optional.

Reference: Moses DA, Metzger SL, Liu JR, Anumanchipalli GK, Makin JG, Sun PF, Chartier J, Dougherty ME, Liu PM, Abrams GM, Tu-Chan A. (2021). Neuroprosthesis for decoding speech in a paralyzed person with anarthria. New England Journal of Medicine. 2021 Jul 15;385(3):217-27.