Speaking seems like a pretty straightforward and natural activity to those of us who do it, but have you ever wondered what it looks like from the inside? It can be unsettling to watch. That tongue that we use and misuse every minute of the day looks totally foreign when we see the muscle at work in an MRI video.
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The European Patent Office nominated physicist and MRI pioneer Jens Frahm at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry as one of the three finalists for its European Inventor award, in the field of research. In the mid-1980’s, over a decade after the MRI was developed, Frahm invented FLASH MRI, a faster way to view what’s going on inside our bodies. In 2010, he and his team developed FLASH2, speeding the imaging up to real-time.
To celebrate their recognition, the institute released a handful of real-time MRI films of people speaking and singing. You can see the lips, tongue, soft palate, and larynx moving together to form words, all in German. It’s weird!