First human to human brain control – yikes!

EEG TMS diagram2University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first non-invasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher having used a brain signal to control the hand of a fellow researcher.

Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to his colleague Andrea Stocco (who was on the other side of the university campus), causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard – involuntarily! It’s pretty cool stuff and you can watch a video of it here.

“It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. So how was it for Stocco? Maybe slightly less thrilling – he compared the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily to that of “a nervous tic”!

The research was carried out using two well-known technologies, Electroencephalography (EEG), a technology routinely used to record brain activity, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a method of delivering stimulation to the brain magnetically to elicit a response (used for instance in the treatment of depression).

“I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology,” said Chantel Prat, assistant professor in psychology at the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person knowingly or without their willing participation.” […and version 2.0?!]

Both brilliant and unnerving, developments in this area will most certainly be worth a watch for the gimlet-eyed!

Read more: University of Washington News / PopSci
Related TTA article:  On DARPA’s wish list: a portable brain recording device (US)

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