Decoding Imagined and Spoken Phrases From Non-invasive Neural (MEG) Signals.
Speech production is a hierarchical mechanism involving the synchronization of the brain and the oral articulators, where the intention of linguistic concepts is transformed into meaningful sounds. Individuals with locked-in syndrome (fully paralyzed but aware) lose their motor ability completely including articulation and even eyeball movement. The neural pathway may be the only option to resume a level of communication for them. Current brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) use patients’ visual and attentional correlates to build communication, resulting in a slow communication rate (a few words per minute). Direct decoding of imagined speech from the neural signals (and then driving a speech synthesizer) has potential for a higher communication rate. In this study, we investigated the decoding of five imagined and spoken phrases from single-trial, non-invasive magnetoencephalography (MEG) signals collected from eight adult subjects. Two machine learning algorithms were used. One was an artificial neural network (ANN) with statistical features as the baseline approach. The other was convolutional neural networks (CNNs) applied on the spatial, spectral and temporal features extracted from the MEG signals. Experimental results indicated the possibility to decode imagined and spoken phrases directly from neuromagnetic signals. CNNs were found to be highly effective with an average decoding accuracy of up to 93% for the imagined and 96% for these spoken phrases.