Brain to Brain interface

UW students are positioned in two different buildings on campus. The sender, here, thinks about firing a cannon at various points throughout a computer game. That signal is sent over the Web directly to the brain of the receiver, below, whose hand automatically hits a touchpad to fire the cannon. Credit: Mary Levin, U of Wash.

Last year I posted a news of a team at the University of Washington that succeeded in transmitting a signal from one brain through another via electronic transducers, one to pick up "thoughts" in a brain and converting them into a signal, the other to convert the signal received into electric stimulation of the other brain thus transferring the information. The demonstration involved one person looking at a video game firing in his head to hit a character on the screen. This thoughts was relayed to the other person's brain causing that person to hit a button thus actually firing the shot.

Now that same team replicated the experiment with a more sophisticated equipment and managed to achieve a more reliable result, independent of the persons involved.

They used six persons engaging them in the experiment with three senders and three receivers.

The technology used allows a non invasive interaction with the sending and the receiving brain. The sending brain is read by an electroencephalography machine and the electrical pulses are sent via Internet to the receiving device, a swim cap worn by the receiving person. This embeds a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil placed on the skull just over the part of the brain controlling the hand movements.

As the first person thinks of the hand movement the second person moves the hand.

The experiments shown an accuracy from 25 to 83% with inaccuracy mostly attributed to the inability of the sender to concentrate.

The team has now received 1M$ funding and is planning to perfect the system to be able to transmit more complex thoughts.

We are really far from real thoughts transmission (including something as simple as "I like to eat a peach") so far indeed that it seems like having crossed a stream whilst the goal is having an ocean to cross. And yet, as they say, any long voyage always start with a first tiny step.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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