Scientists Link Brains Over the Internet

They say it's the most successful mind-meld yet
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2015 1:00 AM CDT
A study participant wearing an EEG cap transmits his thoughts.   (University of Washington)

(Newser) – University of Washington scientists say they pulled off the amazing feat of linking two minds over the Internet—and they didn't have to stick electrodes into anybody's brain to do it. Instead, pairs of study participants a mile apart wore caps—one connected to an EEG machine monitoring brain activity, the other connected to a magnetic coil capable of stimulating the visual cortex—to play a game of "20 Questions," the Seattle Times reports. The researchers, whose study is published in the journal PLoS One, say that when the player with the coil used selected questions about an object from a list using a mouse, the player with the EEG cap was able to communicate a "yes" or "no" by focusing on a light, causing the other player to see a flash of light when the answer was "yes."

The researchers say the subjects determined the correct object in 72% of the "mind meld" games and in just 18% of control rounds. "This is the most complex brain-to-brain experiment, I think, that's been done to date in humans," the lead researcher says in a university press release. "It uses conscious experiences through signals that are experienced visually, and it requires two people to collaborate." The researchers say the project could be a gigantic breakthrough for communications, and they're working on ways to transmit brain states, which could transform a weary or distracted brain into an alert one. (Another study found that climbing a tree is great for your brain, even if you're in your 50s.)

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