A neural speech decoding framework leveraging deep learning and speech synthesis

Xupeng Chen, Ran Wang, Amirhossein Khalilian-Gourtani, Leyao Yu, Patricia Dugan, Daniel Friedman, Werner Doyle, Orrin Devinsky, Yao Wang, Adeen Flinker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Decoding human speech from neural signals is essential for brain–computer interface (BCI) technologies that aim to restore speech in populations with neurological deficits. However, it remains a highly challenging task, compounded by the scarce availability of neural signals with corresponding speech, data complexity and high dimensionality. Here we present a novel deep learning-based neural speech decoding framework that includes an ECoG decoder that translates electrocorticographic (ECoG) signals from the cortex into interpretable speech parameters and a novel differentiable speech synthesizer that maps speech parameters to spectrograms. We have developed a companion speech-to-speech auto-encoder consisting of a speech encoder and the same speech synthesizer to generate reference speech parameters to facilitate the ECoG decoder training. This framework generates natural-sounding speech and is highly reproducible across a cohort of 48 participants. Our experimental results show that our models can decode speech with high correlation, even when limited to only causal operations, which is necessary for adoption by real-time neural prostheses. Finally, we successfully decode speech in participants with either left or right hemisphere coverage, which could lead to speech prostheses in patients with deficits resulting from left hemisphere damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-480
Number of pages14
JournalNature Machine Intelligence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence

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