On Tuesday, scientists at the University of Washington successfully conducted the first successful human brain-to-brain interface. Scientist Rajesh Rao claims to have successfully sent a signal from his brain through an internet connection to control the right hand of his colleague Andrea Stocco.
The success of the experiment comes after years of research in brain-to-computer interface, as well as successful trials in communication between rats and from humans to rats. Both of the participants were placed in separate labs with noise cancelling headphones to stop outside interference. The scientists wore caps with non-invasive electrodes hooked into a machine which reads electrical activity and signals from the brain, these signals were then sent from Rao to Stocco via the internet.
From his lab, Rao watched a video game on his screen and imagined using his hand to use the controls; in a separate lab Stocco’s brain picked up this command and performed the task, pressing the spacebar on his keyboard to play the game. This process is not yet as advanced or seamless as one might imagine though, according to Rao he spent a long time training this mind to learn how to emit the brainwave for motion without actually moving himself. With time and training he was able to create a brainwave pattern which could be picked up as movement even though it was only intention.
Whilst this sort of technology will undoubtedly make some people nervous, researchers have noted that at this stage in the development, it is impossible for a person’s movements to be controlled without their express willingness.