Scientists Develop Groundbreaking System for Translating Thoughts into Text


  • Scientists have developed a noninvasive AI system that translates brain activity into text.
  • The system called a semantic decoder, can benefit patients who have lost their ability to communicate physically.
  • The decoder was developed using a transformer model similar to those used in Google and OpenAI’s chatbots.
  • Participants trained the decoder by listening to podcasts while their brain activity was measured using an fMRI scanner.
  • The AI system can generate text when a participant is listening to or imagining telling a story.
  • The generated text captures the general thoughts or ideas rather than an exact transcript.
  • The system produces text that matches the intended meaning of the participant’s words around half the time.
  • The decoder can also describe visual events from videos without audio.
  • Currently, the system can only be used in a laboratory setting with an fMRI scanner, but portable brain-imaging systems are envisioned for the future.
  • The leading researchers have filed a patent application for the technology.

Main AI News:

In a groundbreaking development, researchers have unveiled a noninvasive AI system that has the ability to translate brain activity into text, revolutionizing communication for individuals who have lost their physical means of expression. This remarkable system, known as a semantic decoder, holds tremendous potential for patients affected by conditions such as stroke, paralysis, or degenerative diseases. Published in the esteemed journal Nature Neuroscience, the study conducted by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin demonstrates the transformative power of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

The semantic decoder was crafted using a transformer model similar to the ones employed by Google’s chatbot Bard and OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT. Drawing inspiration from these cutting-edge technologies, the researchers harnessed the potential of the decoder to enable individuals to communicate effectively without the need for surgical interventions. By leveraging functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners, the participants underwent training, listening to hours of podcasts while their brain activity was meticulously measured.

Once the AI system was trained, it exhibited the remarkable ability to generate a coherent stream of text when a participant listened to or imagined narrating a new story. Although the resulting text does not precisely mirror the participant’s exact words, it adeptly captures the essence of their thoughts and ideas. The researchers intentionally designed the system to encapsulate the general meaning of the individual’s speech, thereby enabling effective communication. According to the study, the trained system achieved a high degree of accuracy, accurately matching the intended meaning of the participant’s original words approximately half of the time.

This groundbreaking research signifies a significant leap forward in noninvasive methods of communication, far surpassing the limitations of previous endeavors that were typically limited to single words or short sentences. Alexander Huth, one of the study’s leaders, highlighted the tremendous advancements achieved, stating, “We’re getting the model to decode continuous language for extended periods of time with complicated ideas.” This breakthrough has the potential to empower individuals to express their thoughts and feelings in a more comprehensive and nuanced manner.

Notably, the AI system’s capabilities extend beyond speech comprehension. Participants were asked to watch videos without audio while inside the fMRI scanner, and astonishingly, the system accurately described “certain events” from the visual content. This remarkable feat demonstrates the versatility and potential of the semantic decoder to decipher not only spoken language but also visual information, opening up new possibilities for communication.

While currently confined to laboratory settings due to its reliance on fMRI scanners, the researchers envision a future where this technology becomes accessible through more portable brain-imaging systems. This would enable individuals to utilize the benefits of the AI system outside of the controlled research environment, enhancing their quality of life and facilitating meaningful connections with the world around them.

Recognizing the immense value and potential impact of their work, the leading researchers have taken steps to protect their innovation. They have filed a PCT patent application, safeguarding their groundbreaking technology and ensuring that its transformative power can be harnessed for the benefit of humanity. As this technology continues to evolve, it holds the promise of restoring communication for those who have long been silenced by physical limitations, heralding a new era of inclusivity and empowerment in healthcare.


The development of a noninvasive AI system capable of translating brain activity into text marks a significant milestone in the field of healthcare and communication. This groundbreaking technology has the potential to revolutionize the market by providing a means for individuals who have lost their physical ability to communicate to regain their voice. With its ability to capture general thoughts and ideas, this system opens up new possibilities for effective and meaningful communication, benefiting patients affected by conditions such as stroke, paralysis, and degenerative diseases.

The market can anticipate a surge in demand for noninvasive communication solutions as this technology progresses, leading to the development of more accessible and portable brain-imaging systems. As such, businesses operating in the healthcare and assistive technology sectors should closely monitor advancements in this field and consider the potential for innovation and market expansion.