In what is believed to be the first human brain-to-brain interface, a researcher at the University of Washington (UW) sent a thought across campus to the brain of another researcher, thereby controlling the recipient's hand movements on a keyboard.
The communication took place between Rajesh Rao, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, and Andrea Stocco, a UW assistant professor of psychology at the University's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.
Brain-To-Brain Diagram: University of Washington
Rao, who had been working on brain-computer interfacing for more than 10 years in his lab, wore an electrode-heavy cap wired to an electroencephalography machine while he watched and played a simple video game with his mind, being careful not to move his hand. Stocco, across campus, wearing a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil placed over his left motor cortex, held in place by his purple swim cap, did not have a computer screen and wore noise-canceling headphones. He knew nothing of the game.
While watching the computer video game, Rao imagined that he was firing a canon at a target and, as he imagined that, instantaneously, Stocco, across campus, moved his finger on his keyboard, as if firing the canon... although Stocco did not know why his finger moved. Stocco moved his finger repeatedly each time Rao imagined himself firing the canon. Stocco later reported that his finger moved like it was a nervous tic.
"It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain," Rao said. "This was basically a one way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains."
Previously, Duke University researchers demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard University demonstrated brain communication between a human and a rat.
Source: University of Washington