Emailing your thoughts?
This month, in a study published (on the 19th) in PLOS One (an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication), researchers used non-invasive neurotechnology, the internet, and human brain waves, to transmit “emails” from one person’s brain to another brain ➡ as far as five thousand miles (8047 kilometers) away.
We’ve had the technology to transmit brain waves to control toys and computer games. Also, this past May, German scientists used 7 pilots as subjects in an experiment utilizing their own brainwaves to fly (flight simulator) with amazing accuracy.
“Just by thinking commands, the pilots who participated in the experiment were able to complete maneuvers such as takeoffs and landings, and they were able to keep the plane within a few degrees of a given compass direction.”
Back to the brain-to-brain communication study.
“Human sensory and motor systems provide the natural means for the exchange of information between individuals, and, hence, the basis for human civilization. The recent development of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) has provided an important element for the creation of brain-to-brain communication systems, and precise brain stimulation techniques are now available for the realization of non-invasive computer-brain interfaces (CBI). These technologies, BCI and CBI, can be combined to realize the vision of non-invasive, computer-mediated brain-to-brain (B2B) communication between subjects (hyperinteraction).
Here we demonstrate the conscious transmission of information between human brains through the intact scalp and without intervention of motor or peripheral sensory systems. Pseudo-random binary streams encoding words were transmitted between the minds of emitter and receiver subjects separated by great distances, representing the realization of the first human brain-to-brain interface.
In a series of experiments, we established internet-mediated B2B communication by combining a BCI based on voluntary motor imagery-controlled electroencephalography (EEG) changes with a CBI inducing the conscious perception of phosphenes (light flashes) through neuronavigated, robotized transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), with special care taken to block sensory (tactile, visual or auditory) cues.
Our results provide a critical proof-of-principle demonstration for the development of conscious B2B communication technologies. More fully developed, related implementations will open new research venues in cognitive, social and clinical neuroscience and the scientific study of consciousness. We envision that hyperinteraction technologies will eventually have a profound impact on the social structure of our civilization and raise important ethical issues.”
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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2008 for therapeutic use. Clinically, it’s used to stimulates nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. It is a noninvasive means of using magnetic pulses (penetrating the skull) inducing weak electric currents to targeted regions in the brain.
In these experiments, researchers used various robotic rotations of the TMS coil over the right occipital cortex site to stimulate phosphenes. Phosphene is a phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. You may have experienced this phenomena in the form of “seeing stars” during sneezing, laughter, a heavy and deep cough, blowing your nose, a blow on the head or low blood pressure, etc.
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Here’s the gist of the study:
One person was designated as the emitter (transmitting thoughts), and another person was designated as the receiver (receiving the thoughts). Researchers recorded EEG (electroencephalography) signals emitted from the brain waves of one of the participants using electrodes on the scalp. The emitter said “hola” (hello) and/or “ciao” (hello or goodbye). The information (words) went directly to a computer and converted to binary code; encoded by pseudo-random binary streams.
The second computer decoded the information and transmitted it to the brain of another participant through robotized transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Tactile, visual and auditory sensations were blocked. Although the receiver(s) did not feel anything, they had a conscious perception of flashing/flicking lights and were able to interpret the signals of information at a fairly accurate rate.
According to the study, there was a total transmission error rate of about 15 percent. The encoding side error rate was around 5 percent, and the error rate on the decoding side, around 11 percent. Not bad considering that B2B communication is in its infancy stage of development.
The researchers anticipate that computers, in the not-so-distant future, will interact directly with the human brain “in a fluent manner”, supporting both computer and brain-to-brain communication routinely. They also state that these initial results suggest new research directions, including the non-invasive direct transmission of emotions, feelings and sense synthesis via brain stimulation.
Researchers: “The widespread use of human brain-to-brain technologically mediated communication will create novel possibilities for human interrelation with broad social implications that will require new ethical and legislative responses. Full study
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The technology was developed as part of a collaboration between the University of Barcelona (Spain), Starlab Barcelona (Spain), Axilum Robotics (France) and Harvard Medical School (United States).
Check out my video (under 3 minutes), and discover what your brain and central nervous system are picking up (as a receiver) every day in your environment, and without your conscious awareness.
The implications of B2B research are mind-boggling. I’m rather psyched about it, although I have mixed feelings. However, I think it would be rather cool if we could communicate with one another (by choice), “telepathically”.
What are your thoughts about this discovery and future implications?
My thanks to Morti for bringing this study to my attention. 🙂US Copyright Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107