Listening in on the language centers
In a new EU-funded project, LMU neurobiologist Anton Sirota plans to unlock the potential of brain signals emerging from the functional neural networks involved in speech perception and comprehension. His results could point to new ways of alleviating language disorders.
Grafik: Tatiana Shepeleva / fotolia.com
(source: LMU press releases)
Every year, more than 5 million people worldwide experience localized brain damage that results in one of the several forms of aphasias. Aphasias are clinical disorders that affect the production and comprehension of natural language, due to neurodegeneration or traumatic nerve-cell loss in specific regions of the cerebral cortex. Patients who suffer from these conditions display cognitive deficits in comprehending spoken language and/or expressing themselves fluently. The use of digital interfaces that are capable of decoding electrical signals relayed by electrodes implanted in specific areas of the brain could provide a promising approach to the rehabilitation of these patients. A new international project called BrainCom, funded by the EU, will establish and apply the brain interface technology aimed to record the activity from the cortical language network in the brain in unprecedented detail, with a view to developing innovative computer-based interfaces to help aphasic patients. Neurobiologist Professor Anton Sirota and his colleagues at LMU will make a vital contribution to the project by establishing the link between such detailed brain signals and coding elements emerging from the cortical neural circuitry, such as the one involved in the encoding of natural language in the brain. These data will provide vital input for the development of computer-based systems that can convert patterned nerve impulses into spoken words or written messages.