While the Internet transmits information easily from computer to computer, scientists are just starting to get the hang of using the technology to connect human brain to human brain.

Last year, scientists demonstrated how one person’s brain signals transmitted over the Internet could move the arm of another person. More recently, scientists transmitted a thought from one brain to another over a distance of 5,000 miles.

“We wanted to find out if one could communicate directly between two people by reading out the brain activity from one person and injecting brain activity into the second person, and do so across great physical distances by leveraging existing communication pathways,” one of the study’s coauthors Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said in a statement. “One such pathway is, of course, the Internet, so our question became, ‘Could we develop an experiment that would bypass the talking or typing part of Internet and establish direct brain-to-brain communication between subjects located far away from each other in India and France ?’”

They could and they did.

Describing it as the “neuroscientific equivalent of instant messaging,” the international team of researchers transmitted the words “hola” and “ciao” from a person’s brain in Spain to another person’s brain in India using EEG linked to the Internet and transcrainial magnetic stimulation technology.

The sender transmitted codes that represented words to a receiver 5,000 miles away, who decoded them to figure out if the right message was sent. Researchers called this the first brain-to-brain interface. (Image source: PLOS One)

The sender transmitted codes that represented words to a receiver 5,000 miles away, who decoded them to figure out if the right message was sent. Researchers called this the first brain-to-brain interface. (Image source: PLOS One)

According to the study published in the journal PLOS One, the use of this non-invasive technique transmitted encoded words between the test subjects’ minds. The person on the receiving end sensed light flashes as a result of the connection and translated the coded flashes into the words that were sent.

The study called it the “first human brain-to-brain interface.”

“By using advanced precision neuro-technologies including wireless EEG and robotized TMS, we were able to directly and noninvasively transmit a thought from one person to another, without them having to speak or write,” Pascual-Leone said. “This in itself is a remarkable step in human communication, but being able to do so across a distance of thousands of miles is a critically important proof-of-principle for the development of brain-to-brain communications. We believe these experiments represent an important first step in exploring the feasibility of complementing or bypassing traditional language-based or motor-based communication.”

(H/T: Science Daily)

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