Hope for Restoring Natural Speech in Neurological Patients by Decoding Pink Floyd Tune

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

In a groundbreaking study published in The Guardian, scientists have successfully reconstructed Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Another Brick in the Wall” by tapping into people’s brainwaves. This marks the first instance where a recognizable song has been decoded from recordings of electrical brain activity.

The primary objective behind this research is to potentially restore the musicality of natural speech in individuals who face communication challenges due to severe neurological conditions, such as stroke or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – the same disease that Stephen Hawking battled. 

While earlier efforts by the same lab managed to decipher speech and even silently imagined words from brain recordings, these reconstructions often sounded robotic, according to Prof. Robert Knight from the University of California in Berkeley, who led the study. Music, he points out, is inherently emotional and prosodic, encompassing rhythm, stress, accent, and intonation. This offers a broader spectrum than mere phonemes in language, potentially adding another layer to implantable speech decoders. 

Unlike previous studies that focused on the brain’s speech motor cortex, this research analyzed recordings from the brain’s auditory regions, responsible for processing all sound facets. The experiment involved 29 patients who listened to a segment of the Pink Floyd song while undergoing epilepsy surgery. Their brain activity was captured using electrodes placed directly on their brain’s surface. Subsequently, artificial intelligence was employed to decode these recordings and reproduce the sounds and words.

The reconstructed song, while slightly muffled, retained the song’s recognizable rhythms and melody. Knight believes that the quality of reconstructions can be enhanced by using a higher density of electrodes. He mentioned that the best reconstructions came from patients with electrodes spaced 3mm apart, suggesting that even closer spacing could yield better sound quality. As brain recording techniques advance, it might soon be feasible to capture such recordings non-invasively, possibly using sensitive scalp-attached electrodes. 

Dr. Alexander Huth from the University of Texas in Austin, who earlier this year announced a system to translate brain activity into a continuous text stream using non-invasive MRI scan data, lauded the study. He emphasized the significance of music in our lives and the potential of brain-machine interfaces to convert imagined music into reality in the future.

This deeper understanding of music and language processing could also illuminate why individuals with Broca’s aphasia, who find it challenging to articulate the right words, can often sing words effortlessly. 

Leave a Reply


Free CME credits

Both our subscription plans include Free CME/CPD AMA PRA Category 1 credits.

Digital Certificate PDF

On course completion, you will receive a full-sized presentation quality digital certificate.

medtigo Simulation

A dynamic medical simulation platform designed to train healthcare professionals and students to effectively run code situations through an immersive hands-on experience in a live, interactive 3D environment.

medtigo Points

medtigo points is our unique point redemption system created to award users for interacting on our site. These points can be redeemed for special discounts on the medtigo marketplace as well as towards the membership cost itself.
  • Registration with medtigo = 10 points
  • 1 visit to medtigo’s website = 1 point
  • Interacting with medtigo posts (through comments/clinical cases etc.) = 5 points
  • Attempting a game = 1 point
  • Community Forum post/reply = 5 points

    *Redemption of points can occur only through the medtigo marketplace, courses, or simulation system. Money will not be credited to your bank account. 10 points = $1.

All Your Certificates in One Place

When you have your licenses, certificates and CMEs in one place, it's easier to track your career growth. You can easily share these with hospitals as well, using your medtigo app.

Our Certificate Courses