Researchers have successfully tested a method for humans to telepathically communicate with each other, according to a report published in a research journal.
“Until recently, the exchange of communication between minds or brains of different individuals has been supported and constrained by the sensorial and motor arsenals of our body,” scientists wrote this month in research journal PLOS One. “However, there is now the possibility of a new era in which brains will dialogue in a more direct way.”
[sharequote align="center"]"[T]here is now the possibility of a new era in which brains will dialogue in a more direct way.”[/sharequote]
In a recent series of tests, researchers were able to transmit information from one individual’s brain to another’s without the use of traditional methods of communicating, such as talking, reading or hand signals.
On the left, the BCI subsystem is shown schematically, including electrodes over the motor cortex and the EEG amplifier/transmitter wireless box in the cap. Motor imagery of the feet codes the bit value 0, of the hands codes bit value 1. On the right, the CBI system is illustrated, highlighting the role of coil orientation for encoding the two bit values. Communication between the BCI and CBI components is mediated by the internet. (Image source: PLOS One)
Scientists instructed one participant, the emitter, to look at a message shown on a screen while hooked up to a computer. The computer — Brain to Computer Interface — was able to analyze the parts of the brain lit up and encode the information.
View of emitter and receiver subjects with non-invasive devices supporting, respectively, the BCI based on EEG changes driven by motor imagery (left) and the CBI based on the reception of phosphenes elicited by a neuronavigated TMS (right) components of the B2B transmission system. (Image source: PLOS One)
That information was sent over the Intenet to another computer — Computer to Brain Interface — hooked up to the receiving participant. The computer than activated the parts of the receiver's brain that were lit up when the first person was thinking.
Scientists “ensured the receiver subjects were not relying” on visual or other stimuli by “blocking sensory cues” through a variety of methods, including having them wear eye masks and ear plugs.
The results were overall very positive.
“In the first experiment the transmission error rates were of 6%, 5% and 11% for the BCI, CBI and the combined B2B components respectively, and in the second, error rates were of 2%, 1% and 4% respectively,” researchers wrote.
In a second experiment, where scientists attempted the method with the emitter and receiver in different countries, researchers observed a 15 percent error rate.
“In these experiments we demonstrated the feasibility of direct brain-to-brain communication in human subjects, with special care taken to ensure the non-participation of sensory or motor systems in the exchange of information,” they wrote. “Streams of pseudo-random bits representing the words ‘hola’ and ‘ciao’ were successfully transmitted mind-to-mind between human subjects separated by a great distance, with a negligible probability of this happening by chance.”
[sharequote align="center"]“In these experiments we demonstrated the feasibility of direct brain-to-brain communication in human subjects..."[/sharequote]
The research was carried out by experts at Harvard Medical School, Duke University, the University of Barcelona and Axilum Robotics, among others.
The scientists say that they “believe these experiments represent an important first step in exploring the feasibility of complementing or bypassing traditional language-based or other motor/PNS mediated means in interpersonal communication.”
“Finally, 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,” the concluded. “The widespread use of human brain-to-brain technologically mediated communication will create novel possibilities for human interrelation with broad social implications that will require new ethical and legislative responses.”
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