CypherCon 2024

Biohacking: Neurology and AI

Dr. Bill Gross

Abstract:

Aphasia (a communication disorder) is a common and catastrophic outcome following stroke. While current therapies typically do not fully restore speech to individuals with severe impairments, direct neural speech decoding using a brain-computer interface (BCI) may one day achieve this goal. Frequently, these patients have severe damage in their language systems, while their semantic (i.e., conceptual knowledge) functions are preserved. Because of this, directly decoding semantic activity may be possible.

Here I will present the current state of the art in speech BCIs, along with our lab’s machine learning model designed to decode brain activity to concept identities. We plan to pair this concept decoder with an LLM in the future to fully re-represent speech in these people. We are currently developing these models by temporarily placing grids inside patient’s brains who are undergoing awake brain surgeries, or who are coming into the
hospital for seizure mapping for epilepsy surgery. This research is laying the foundation for the development of practical invasive neuroprosthetic technology that could revolutionize care for patients with severe aphasia, opening up a new avenue of treatment for this population.

Dr. Bill Gross

Biohacking!

Dr. Gross is an Anesthesiologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, with a focus on caring for neurosurgical patients. In addition to his clinical duties, he has an NIH funded research lab where he studies language function through invasive electrical recordings of the brain and is currently developing a speech neuroprosthesis to restore language function to people with aphasia after stroke. He is also passionate about education, where he is involved in many roles through the medical and graduate schools, including being the director of the 3rd year Anesthesiology Clerkship, and developing and running the professionalism curriculum for the Anesthesiology residents.