This year, we've seen remarkable breakthroughs in rat-to-rat brain interfaces and even human-to-rat interfaces that put us one step closer to telepathy. But now researchers at the University of Washington have achieved the ultimate: a non-invasive telepathic interface between two humans brains.
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By wearing an EEG cap that read his brain's electrical signals, UW computer scientist Rajesh Rao was able to use his thoughts to control the actions of assistant professor Andrea Stucco, who wore a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil that stimulates brain activity. A code was used to translate brain signals from EEG readings into brain commands.
With both hands on his chair's arm rests, Rao envisioned his right hand moving, as if he was clicking a "fire" button on a cannon shooting video game. Across campus, Stucco had his back to the computer screen where the video game was playing out. Still, he involuntary moved his right hand and pushed his keyboard's space bar to fire the cannon.
"It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain," Rao said in a university news release. "This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains."
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Before you clutch your skull and run for the hills, Rao said the technology only reads certain kinds of simple brain signals, not a person's thoughts. Also, the interface doesn't give anyone the capability to control actions against a bother's will. Still, Stocco jokingly referred to the breakthrough as a "Vulcan mind meld."
In the future, researchers say the technology could allow a person with disabilities to communicate his or her thoughts or help a flight attendant or passenger land an airplane should the pilot become incapacitated. Next, Rao and Stocco plan to conduct an experiment that will transmit more complex information from brain to brain, which will require a larger pool of participants. In the meantime, check out the jaw-dropping video of Rao and Stucco's mind meld.
Credit: University of Washington