Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Neurosci., 12 May 2011 | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2011.00065

Classification of intended phoneme production from chronic intracortical microelectrode recordings in speech-motor cortex

Jonathan S. Brumberg1*, E. Joe Wright2, Dinal S. Andreasen2,3, Frank H. Guenther1,4,5 and Philip R. Kennedy2
  • 1 Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2 Neural Signals Inc,. Duluth, GA, USA
  • 3 Georgia Tech Research Institute, Marietta, GA, USA
  • 4 Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
  • 5 Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard University–Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

We conducted a neurophysiological study of attempted speech production in a paralyzed human volunteer using chronic microelectrode recordings. The volunteer suffers from locked-in syndrome leaving him in a state of near-total paralysis, though he maintains good cognition and sensation. In this study, we investigated the feasibility of supervised classification techniques for prediction of intended phoneme production in the absence of any overt movements including speech. Such classification or decoding ability has the potential to greatly improve the quality-of-life of many people who are otherwise unable to speak by providing a direct communicative link to the general community. We examined the performance of three classifiers on a multi-class discrimination problem in which the items were 38 American English phonemes including monophthong and diphthong vowels and consonants. The three classifiers differed in performance, but averaged between 16 and 21% overall accuracy (chance-level is 1/38 or 2.6%). Further, the distribution of phonemes classified statistically above chance was non-uniform though 20 of 38 phonemes were classified with statistical significance for all three classifiers. These preliminary results suggest supervised classification techniques are capable of performing large scale multi-class discrimination for attempted speech production and may provide the basis for future communication prostheses.

Keywords: locked-in syndrome, speech prosthesis, neurotrophic electrode, chronic recording, motor cortex

Citation: Brumberg JS, Wright EJ, Andreasen DS, Guenther FH, and Kennedy PR (2011) Classification of intended phoneme production from chronic intracortical microelectrode recordings in speech-motor cortex. Front. Neurosci. 5:65. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2011.00065

Received: 17 September 2010; Accepted: 24 April 2011;
Published online: 12 May 2011.

Edited by:

Nicholas Hatsopoulos, University of Chicago, USA

Reviewed by:

Jose M. Carmena, University of California Berkeley, USA
Wasim Q. Malik, Harvard Medical School, USA

Copyright: © 2011 Brumberg, Wright, Andreasen, Guenther and Kennedy. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Jonathan S. Brumberg, Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University, 677 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA. e-mail: brumberg@bu.edu

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