Conscious Brain-to-Brain Communication Achieved
Futurists and technologists envision a future where talking and typing are obsolete forms of communication. Instead, we'll communicate brain-to-brain.
An international team of roboticists and neurologists has just demonstrated that this is genuinely possible. They report their findings in the journal PLoS ONE.
In the study, one subject in India donned an electroencephalography (EEG) headpiece. EEG uses non-invasive electrodes to record brain activity. At the same time, 5,000 miles away in France, another subject was hooked up to a transcranial magnetic stimulating (TMS) device with his eyes covered by a blindfold. Both set-ups were connected via the Internet.
Next, the subject in India sent the words "hola" and "ciao" -- translated into binary -- to the subject in France. If the subject in India envisioned moving his hands, a 1 was sent to the subject in France, who would see a light appear in their peripheral vision. If the subject in India envisioned moving his feet, a 0 was sent, and the subject in France would see a light in a different location. Slowly but surely, the binary numbers were sent, received, and translated. The total error rate was only 11% the first time around, and when the experiment was repeated, it was just 4%.
The current experiment is a far cry from anything out of science fiction, but it is a solid proof-of-concept.
"Although certainly limited in nature, these initial results suggest new research directions, including the non-invasive direct transmission of emotions and feelings or the possibility of sense synthesis in humans," the researchers say.
"We anticipate that computers in the not-so-distant future will interact directly with the human brain in a fluent manner, supporting both computer- and brain-to-brain communication routinely."
Source: Grau C, Ginhoux R, Riera A, Nguyen TL, Chauvat H, et al. (2014) Conscious Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans Using Non-Invasive Technologies. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105225. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105225