Hearing and Imagining Sound

“There is some evidence that hearing the sound and imagining the sound activate similar areas of the brain. If you can understand the relationship well enough between the brain recordings and sound, you could either synthesize the actual sound a person is thinking, or just write out the words with a type of interface device...At some point, the brain has to extract away all that auditory information and just map it onto a word, since we can understand speech and words regardless of how they sound. The big question is, What is the most meaningful unit of speech? A syllable, a phone, a phoneme? We can test these hypotheses using the data we get from these recordings.”

~ Brian Pasley, UC Berkeley, from "Scientists Decode Brain Waves to Eavesdrop on What We Hear," by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News Center, January 31, 2012

PLoS Biology Podcast Episode 2: Decoding speech from the human brain by Public Library of Science

See also: "Breakthrough: The First Sound Recordings Based on Reading People’s Minds,"by Robert T. Gonzalez, io9, February, 1, 2012