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Tuesday September 3, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday September 3, 2013 MYT 7:49:30 AM
Your thoughts to my thoughts: A researcher was able to send a brain signal via the Internet to his colleague, on the other side of the university campus, that forced him to involuntarily move a finger on a keyboard.
Move over, Mister Spock – researchers have linked two human brains via the Internet.
QUICK, grab the tinfoil hats. In an experiment conducted by University of Washington researchers Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco, Rao was able to send a brain signal to his colleague situated on the other side of the university campus that forced him to involuntarily move his finger on a keyboard.
The signal was transmitted ... via the Internet.
The result, which is being hailed as the world’s first non invasive human-to-human brain interface, was performed using head-mounted electrodes which were plugged into an electroencephalography machine with the captured signals sent over the Internet.
Although this is a very primitive example of hacking a brain, if perfected, the possibilities are endless. “The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now, it can be a way to connect brains,” Stocco said. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”
In other words, being able to download a textbook straight into a person’s knowledge centres, or the ability to speak foreign languages, or for those with a hankering for the film The Matrix, martial arts skills.
However, the possibilities are also more than a little creepy, as Rao concedes. “It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” he said. “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.”
Still, Rao, who jokingly refers to the experiment as a “Vulcan mind meld”, after the telepathic ability from Star Trek, was also quick to highlight that this process is not about reading thoughts despite its sci-fi connotations.
Rather, it is about identifying and transmitting simple brain commands and therefore, would not give anyone the power to control another person’s thoughts or actions against their will.
Similar experiments have been performed in the past – researchers at Duke University demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard researchers have demonstrated the same phenomenon between a person and a rat – this is the first time both subjects have been human.
“Brain-computer interface is something people have been talking about for a long, long time,” says Chantel Prat, assistant professor in psychology at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, and Stocco’s wife and research partner who helped conduct the experiment.
“We plugged a brain into the most complex computer anyone has ever studied, and that is another brain.”
The next step is to attempt to send more complex information from one human brain to another and then eventually to open up the test group to see if the command can be sent to multiple recipients. – AFP Relaxnews
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Lifestyle, Science Technology, Science & Technology, Science, brain-to-brain interface, Vulcan mind meld, Rajesh Rao, Andrea Stocco, University of Washington
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