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Brain-To-Brain Communication

By: Fiona Dahlberg

Edited by: Bryce Swiggum

 

Brain-to-brain communication allows minds to communicate directly, without speaking a word. It sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, intriguing but frightening at the same time, yet it is slowly becoming reality. In August of 2013 the University of Washington has successful in the first non-invasive brain-to-brain interface. This has been done before to an extent; probes have been used to connect the brains of mice and to connect a human brain to connect to a mouse’s, but the University of Washington has connected two human minds, and using nothing more than an EEG (electroencephalography is used to record electrical activity along the scalp, like you could get at the hospital), a magnetic stimulant (transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS), and the internet.

 

This experiment was actually pretty simple. One person (the sender) was hooked up to the EEG and the other (the receiver) to the magnet stimulant, and then they were both hooked together on the internet. The sender was watching a screen on which a simple video game was being played, which to win they only had to hit fire when a target was on the screen. The sender didn’t have the button though, the receiver did. So the sender would imagine their hand moving to press the fire button, and the receiver would copy the movements from over a mile away with no view of the video game.

 

University of Washington brain-to-brain testing. Image by University of Washington

 

Before you panic, this technology is very simple. At the moment, only simple movements can be influenced, and only if the receiver wants to participate, so mind control won’t emerge from this technology.  This technology, once refined, could be used to allow the disabled to communicate their wants and needs to a caretaker, it could allow communication between people who speak different languages, and it could allow the transfer of complex ideas between student and teacher. While these things probably won’t be showing up any time soon, it is still amazing to think that only a little while ago these ideas were considered fiction, something that would happen hundreds of years in the future.

 


To learn more about this experiment: click here.

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