Non-invasive brain-to-brain interface lets wearers share thoughts

Scientist Andrea Stocco and his team over at the University of Washington Institute of Learning & Brain Sciences have cooked up a system that sounds like it is straight out of science fiction. The researchers have come up with a brain interface system that allows two human users to share their thoughts. No invasive cutting or inserting of sensors into the brain is required.

In the latest round of testing with the system, two volunteers were able to successfully transmit their thoughts to each other over the internet while playing a game of questions and answers. Stocco says that this is the most complex brain-to-brain experiment performed in humans so far.

The two people were in separate locations during the test. One person, the responder, was shown an image on screen and the other participant, the inquirer, sent yes or no question by clicking on them with a mouse. The responder wore an EEG cap to capture and translate brain activity and answered by staring at one of two flashing LEDs attached to the monitor.

Those LEDs flashed at different frequencies. Answers were captured, translated, and sent over the internet to the inquirer where a magnetic coil behind the participants head transmitted the signals to the inquirer's brain via transcranial magnetic stimulation. For yes answers, the inquirer was able to see a flash of light known as a phosphene for yes and saw nothing for no answers. Participants were able to guess the correct object for 72% of real games compared to only 18% of the time for control games.