First human brain-to-brain interface performed

Researchers have developed a non-invasive brain-to-brain interface that allows people to control each others’ motions by sending brain signal via the Internet.

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: Researchers have developed a non-invasive brain-to-brain interface that allows people to control each others’ motions by sending brain signal via the Internet.

Although brain-to-brain interface have been performed before, this is the first demonstration done between humans.

Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao, a computer science professor from University of Washington, sent a brain signal to his colleague Andrea Stocco on the other side of the campus, causing Stocco`s finger to move on a keyboard.

Stucco said that the Internet is a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains, asserting that they wanted to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.

Rao has been working on brain-computer interfacing in his lab for more than 10 years.

In 2011, spurred by the rapid advances in technology, he believed he could demonstrate the concept of human brain-to-brain interfacing. So he partnered with Stocco, a research assistant professor in psychology at the UW`s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

On Aug. 12, Rao sat in his lab wearing a cap with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, which reads electrical activity in the brain. Stocco was in his lab across campus wearing a purple swim cap marked with the stimulation site for the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil that was placed directly over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement.

The team had a Skype connection set up so the two labs could coordinate, though neither Rao nor Stocco could see the Skype screens.

Rao looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game with his mind. When he was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand (being careful not to actually move his hand), causing a cursor to hit the "fire" button.

Almost instantaneously, Stocco, who wore noise-canceling earbuds and wasn`t looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon. Stocco compared the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily to that of a nervous tic.

(With inputs from ANI)

Photo: www.washington.edu

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