Science

Scientists achieve human brain-to-brain interface

Scientists achieve human brain...
Rajesh Rao (left) has used his mind to move the hand of Andrea Stucco (right)
Rajesh Rao (left) has used his mind to move the hand of Andrea Stucco (right)
View 3 Images
A diagram of the process used in the experiment
1/3
A diagram of the process used in the experiment
Rajesh Rao (left) has used his mind to move the hand of Andrea Stucco (right)
2/3
Rajesh Rao (left) has used his mind to move the hand of Andrea Stucco (right)
The video game, with the rocket exploding over the cannon
3/3
The video game, with the rocket exploding over the cannon

Brain-to-brain interfacing – it’s previously been accomplished between two rats, but now it’s been achieved between two humans. Rajesh Rao, who studies computational neuroscience at the University of Washington, has successfully used his mind to control the hand of his colleague, Andrea Stucco. The two were linked via a Skype connection.

The experiment, which was conducted on Aug. 12th but announced just yesterday, worked as follows ...

Rao put on a skull cap containing electrodes, which was in turn connected to an electroencephalography (EEG) machine. Via those electrodes, the machine was able to detect the electrical activity in his brain.

Meanwhile, across the campus, Stocco wore a swim cap that was hooked up to a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine. That machine was capable of activating a magnetic stimulation coil, which was integrated into the cap directly above Stocco’s left motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movements of the hands.

Back in Rao’s lab, the scientist watched a screen displaying a video game, in which the player must tap the spacebar in order to shoot down a rocket – a computer in Stocco’s lab was linked to that same game. Instead of tapping the bar, however, Rao merely visualized himself doing so. The EEG nonetheless detected the electrical impulse associated with that imagined movement, and proceeded to send a signal – via the Skype connection – to the TMS in Stocco’s lab.

This caused the coil in the cap to stimulate his left motor cortex, which in turn made his right hand move. Given that his finger was already resting over the spacebar on his computer, this caused a cannon to fire in the game, successfully shooting down the rocket. He compared the feeling to that of a nervous tic.

A diagram of the process used in the experiment
A diagram of the process used in the experiment

It should be noted that neither of the scientists could see each others’ Skype video feeds, plus Stocco was wearing noise-canceling earbuds, so no subconscious cues could pass between them. Rao is also quick to state that the technology couldn’t be used to read another person’s mind, or to make them do things without their willing participation.

The researchers now hope to establish two-way communications between participants’ brains, as the video game experiment (which can be seen below) just utilized one-way communication. Additionally, they would like to transmit more complex packets of information between brains. Ultimately, they hope that the technology could be used for things like allowing non-pilots to land planes in emergency situations, or letting disabled people transmit their needs to caregivers.

Source: University of Washington

Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans: A Pilot Study

20 comments
Chizzy
next step the squid from the movie strange days. can't wait!
Nairda
An amazing accomplishment. Stepping back a bit, can the electrical activity pattern of a normal walking person be stored on a computer, then played back when attached to a disabled person. Direct interface to limbs bypassing the damage rather then brain to brain. Or better yet, same device using disabled person't brain linked to limbs, in essence creating an artificial nervous system. Its an old topic, but last time it received fan fare, this kind technology was not available. Worth a re-visit.
Bart Viaene
Drill masters will love it : finally, they'll be able to march the entire platoon in a nicely synchronized way ;-)
interface
let's hope interfasing will be use for the good
Mike Hill
I believe it is just one small step away from "Driving Miss Daisy"! Seriously, i really like the structure of the experiment. It will be interesting to keep up with the ensuing progress and how it can benefit society, particularly those with diminished motor function.
Happy Joy
beautiful as where not only can it be used as one application this is a foundation to many variations like handicap of anytype related to humans for one example election impulses to be transmitted to artificial mechanical limbs or even other robotic devices so this will change humanity to the next level as enhancing the normal man but giving the abnormal (handicap) a step up to normality, so thanks the heavens above whatever religion anyone maybe and push super hard unlimited the funding fast as can and dont let this getaway like the gingerbread man you see.
Mexoplex 5 Million
Im sorry, Im glad this is possible. BUT the thought of someone else in my head moving my body parts is creepy as hell. Hollywood is going to make a movie about this.
Joe Sobotka
I agree with Mexoplex. Its VERY cool! But also a tad creepy.
Facebook User
They already did make a movie about it called Brainstorm with Natalie Wood and Christopher Walken http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085271/ The computer sequences were cutting edge and close to now reality.
dsiple
next - the Vulcan mind-meld