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Brain-to-brain communication was achieved recently using brain-computer interfaces, computer-brain interfaces, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings and the internet. The developers of this brain-to-brain communication system demonstrated the transmission of information between conscious human brains without use of motor or peripheral sensory systems. This means that the information was sent from one mind to another mind without talking or reading.
Electrical signals emitted by one brain were picked up by electrodes on the scalp, and this information then went to a computer to be converted to binary code. The computer then sent out the information over the internet to another computer. The second computer sent the information to the skull of another person in the form of light flashes, and the brain of this person was consciously able to interpret the signals as information. The computer-to-computer information was transmitted over the internet similarly to how emails are sent. In essence, one brain emailed information to another brain.
The scientists who developed this brain-to-brain communication system were from the University of Barcelona in Spain, Axilum Robotics in France, the Berenson Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation of Harvard Medical School and Starlab Barcelona in Spain. A report on the technology was published in the journal PLOS One.
Experiments were carried out to test the system. One person was designated as the emitter, who transmitted the thoughts, and another person was designated as the receiver, who received the thoughts. The emitter and receiver were separated by a great distance. That is, from India to France or Spain to France, so that there could be no confounding transmission of information. Initially, the emitter said “hola” or “ciao.” The words that were transmitted were encoded by pseudo-random binary streams.
The internet mediated brain-to-brain communication was initiated with voluntary imagery-controlled EEG changes. The receiver then had conscious perception of light flashes transmitted through robotized transcranial magnetic stimulation. The receiver did not visually see anything but just received the information in consciousness. Tactile, visual or auditory sensations were blocked.
In one part of the experiment, in which thoughts were transmitted from Spain to France, the researchers found a total error rate of 15 percent. The encoding side error rate was five percent and the error rate on the decoding side was about 11 percent. This was considered to be a good rate given the primitive state of the technology.
Brain wave sensing technology has been developing for a while. It has been reported that EEG headsets were used to record electrical activity on the scalp in such a way that allowed someone to use their mind to control a toy helicopter. Computer technology is always a component in this type of “telepathic” communication system.
The authors of the report stated that this technology could have a profound impact on the social structure of human civilization and that ethical issues will need to be considered. The brain-to-brain communication system that works like email is likely to be used to study human consciousness, and can open many new arenas of research in neuroscience. The researchers were reported to have said that clear telepathic communication that is mediated by computers will become routine in the near future.
By Margaret Lutze