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Building a better hearing aid: This one filters out unwanted sounds by reading your mind

| | May 28, 2019
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Image: Alexander Raths/123RF
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The brain is unsurpassed in its ability to pick out juicy tidbits and attention-grabbing voices against a cacophony of background noise. Hearing aids, however, stink at this “cocktail party effect”: Rather than amplifying a particular voice by selective attention, they amplify every sound equally.

On [May 15], researchers unveiled a possible solution — an experimental hearing aid that reads the mind. It uses artificial intelligence to separate the sounds of different speakers, detects brain activity that makes one of those voices stand out from the others, and amplifies only that voice before delivering the sound to the listener.

If the technology proves practical — and for that it probably can’t require implanting electrodes on the surface of the brain, as the current version does — it could serve as the basis for a brain-controlled hearing aid that would let people with hearing loss function better in social settings as well as in the noisy world.

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To find widespread use, the mind-reading hearing aid would have to work via electrodes on the scalp. The Columbia team is working on the scalp version, as well as one with electrodes around the ear.

Read full, original post: Experimental brain-controlled hearing aid can pick out voices in a crowd

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