Researchers from the University of Washington (UW) have revealed a revolutionary, sci-fi movie like research, which they call a first in noninvasive human-to-human brain interface. Under the research, two researchers at the University have designed ways to control each others'minds from across campus.
Detail on the tools used in the experiment
The research team was headed by faculty members Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco. Rajesh Rao used the internet and various other brain recording tools to a send signals to Andrea Stocco’s brain which caused his hands to move.
Rao put on a cap, with electrodes fitted to an EEG machine, whereas Stocco was wearing a swim cap which could be used to start magnetic stimulation in the brain mainly over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement.
Researchers played cannons game to conclude the findings
Rao was playing a game where he wished to fire cannons and thought of moving his right hand to fire. Stocco at once could sense his index finger move up and down even though he was not doing anything.
“It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. He said that this experiment was designed to create a one-way flow of information from his brain to Stocco’s. The next step is to develop a much more equitable two way conversation directly between two brains.
Prior to this, there were successful research attempts at computer-brain interaction, but brain-to-brain interaction like this is a first of its kind.
Also, researchers at Duke University demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats. In a different experiment, Harvard researchers showed it between a human and a rat.
Potential uses of the technology
Researchers are attempting to see if more intricate experiments can be performed with the technology. The applications are mind boggling. Stocco said that this technology can be used for flying a plane in case of emergency, where a flight attendant could fly a plane via someone else’s brain. The technology may also be used to help people who are unable to speak clearly.
Both were coordinating through a Skype connection, but neither Rao nor Stocco were able to see Skype screens. Rao said that only simple kind of brain signals can be tracked through this technology, not a person’s thoughts. Further, the technology cannot be used to control the actions of someone without his consent.