A group of scientists from the University of Washington have successfully linked a pair of humans in an experiment that could eventually enable us to communicate our thoughts to others.
Two people are connected together through their brains – via the internet. One person, the sender, thinks a thought and the other, a receiver, performs an action based on that thought.
The results of the study have led to a $1 million grant, which the scientists plan to use to develop the concept further.
During the experiment, three pairs of people were placed far apart in separate buildings. Their only way of communicating was through a device known as an electroencephalography machine. The two subjects wore a swim cap with a transcranial magnetic simulation coil placed close to a part of the brain that controls hand movements. This basically allowed for the thoughts of the sender to be sent to the receiver – and for the receiver to do what the sender thought.
The test placed each of the three senders in front a computer game where they had to fire a cannon – without actually performing the action themselves. Thinking about it sent the signals over to their connected receivers, which was successful because the receivers ended up completing the action by hitting the fire button. However, as the receivers couldn’t see the screen, their aim was a little off.
But this ended up telling the scientists that some senders were thinking differently – which obviously ended up having an effect on the course of action.
“The new study brings our brain-to-brain interfacing paradigm from an initial demonstration to something that is closer to a deliverable technology,” said co-author Andrea Stocco, professor of psychology at the university.
This may be one small step disguised as one giant leap for the possibility of telepathic super-powers. But far from that, the scientists are hopeful to use this kind of technology for monitoring pilots (in case they get sleepy) or for teaching.
"Imagine someone who's a brilliant scientist but not a brilliant teacher. Complex knowledge is hard to explain - we're limited by language," said Chantel Prat, co-author of the published study.