Brain to Brain Communication Breakthrough
Kyle Maxey posted on August 30, 2013 |

Researchers at the University of Washington have completed the first “noninvasive human-to-human brain interface”, allowing one researcher to control the movements of another researcher over the internet.

In their experiment, Rajesh Rao, a professor of computational neuroscience, enlisted the help of Andrea Stucco, an assistant professor of psychology, to transmit his brain activity across campus so it could be input into Stucco’s mind.

To execute this experiment Rao placed a cap stippled with electrodes on his head and connected it to an EEG machine that could read the activity in his brain. Across campus Stucco donned a similar cap. Stucco’s headgear was connected to a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine that could send signals to stimulate the left motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls hand movement.

With their setup in place the two researchers sat down to play a video game. According to the University of Washington, “Rao looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game with his mind. When he was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand… causing a cursor to hit the “fire” button. Almost instantaneously, Stocco, who… wasn’t looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon.”

After the experiment, Stucco likened the result to another milestone in networking. “The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Stucco said. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”

Now that one-way brain-to-brain communications have been proven to work, Rao and his team are looking to establish two-way brain-to-brain communications while also increasing the complexity of information that can be transmitted.

Although a number of people will run in fear thinking this technology will usher in an era of mind control, Rao and his team at Washington believe their primitive device could be used in much more productive ways. According to the professor, this new technology could be used to help train robotic prosthetics or even provide sight to the blind by taking images from a camera and stimulating the brain.  

Images and Video Courtesy of the University of Washington

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