Researchers from the University of Washington have developed a brain to brain computer interface that that brings us one step closer to telepathy. Andrea Stocco and Chantel Prat are the proud inventors of the device that allows people to share thoughts with one another, all without saying a word.
Stocco, an assistant professor of psychology from the University of Washington, offered a statement informing that “Evolution has spent a colossal amount of time to find ways for us and other animals to take information out of our brains and communicate it to other animals in the forms of behavior, speech and so on”.
He went on say that this is a process which requires a certain amount of translation, and even so, people still can’t share all of the information that their brains process, just a small part of it. He and Prat took this as inspiration and got to work reversing the process by “opening up this box and taking signals from the brain”, then putting them inside another brain, using only minimal translation.
Essentially, the thoughts the first person has take the shape of flashes of light before being transmitted to the other person.
For their study, Stocco and Prat took pairs of subjects and placed them in different rooms, about a mile away from each other. The respondent was told to put on an electrode cap that was connected to an electroencephalography device, a machine known for its ability to record electrical brain activity.
The inquirer had to stay in front of the magnetic coil in the room. The coil had the job of stimulating his or her visual cortex and helping them see a phosphene, the above mentioned flash of light.
The test consisted of the researchers showing the respondent an object (on the computer screen) and telling them to concentrate on what they’re looking at.
As for the inquirer, the researchers showed this subject a list of several objects, one of them being the one the respondent was told to think about. The research duo also gave these subjects a list of “yes” or “no” questions that were related to the object – “Is it sweet?”, “Is it a liquid?”, so on.
Inquirers sent questions by clicking on them, whereas respondents sent answers by looking at the screen and focusing on “yes” or on “no”. Affirmative answers generated a visible phosphene to the inquirers, negative answers didn’t generate a visible phosphene.
In the end the subjects managed to deduce the correct object 72 percent (72%) of the time. The wrong guesses were attributed to the respondent not being sure what answer to send the inquirer, the respondent thinking about both answers, or the inquirer having a hard time recognize the phosphene.
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