Researchers have claimed that they successfully were able to establish a brain-to-brain link over the internet allowing two people to communicate suing only brain signals.
The complex experiment was completed by researchers at the University of Washington. For the study, participants took part in a question-and-answer game by using signals transmitted through the brain over the Internet, according to Gracious Column.
The researchers involved in the study say that it is a breakthrough for proof that brain-to-brain communication is possible between two people.
“It uses conscious experiences through signals that are experienced visually, and it requires two people to collaborate,” said lead author Andrea Stocco, an assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.
The study involves two participants. One of them is labeled the ‘respondent’ while the other is the ‘inquirer’. The first participant wears a cap that is connected to an electroencephalography (EEG) machine that is able to record electrical brain activity. This person is then shown an object on a computer screen while the ‘inquirer’ views a list of possible objects and associate questions.
The ‘inquirer’ then sends a question and the ‘respondent’ is asked to answer either “yes” or no” simply by focusing their attention on one of two flashing LED lights that are attached to a monitor representing their answer.
Once the answer is “submitted” the inquirer is sent a signal via the Internet which activates a magnetic coil positioned behind their head. Only a “yes” answer generates a response strong enough to stimulate the visual cortex where they would then be able to see a flash of light known as a “phosphene” which looks like a blob, wave or thin line which creates enough of a signal to disrupt the visual field telling the inquirer the answer.
“They have to interpret something they’re seeing with their brains,” said co-author Chantel Prat, a faculty member at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and a UW associate professor of psychology. “It’s not something they’ve ever seen before.”
Errors can occur, researchers have said. Oftentimes this happens with the respondents do not know the answers to questions or when they focus on both answers.
“While the flashing lights are signals that we’re putting into the brain, those parts of the brain are doing a million other things at any given time too,” Prat said.
The researchers are continuing further studies on brain signals that include research into how it can be used as a sort of “brain tutoring” that would transfer signals from healthy brains to those that are developmentally challenged such as signals from a focused student to one who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“Imagine having someone with ADHD and a neurotypical student,” Prat said. “When the non-ADHD student is paying attention, the ADHD student’s brain gets put into a state of greater attention automatically.”