Two minds with but a single thought as University of Washington researcher controls colleague’s hand movements
SCIENTISTS have achieved human mind control for the first time in an experiment at the University of Washington. Using recorded brain signals and the magnetic stimulation of muscles, researchers were able to remotely control the hand movements of a person in another room.
The technique called “non-invasive brain-to-brain interfacing” uses the internet to connect two brains directly, a scenario reminiscent of the brainwashing scene in John Frankenheimer’s Cold War thriller The Manchurian Candidate.
Brain-to-brain communication between two rats has already been demonstrated by researchers at Duke University in North Carolina. And scientists at Harvard have forged a connection between a human and a rat. But the experiment at the University of Washington is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain interfacing.
Andrea Stocco, who took part in the experiment, said the researchers wanted to take knowledge and “transmit it directly from brain to brain”.
“The internet was a way to connect computers,” he said, “and now it can be a way to connect brains.”
In the experiment, researcher Rajesh Rao imagined tapping a keyboard with his finger. His thoughts caused an electrical signal to be sent via the internet to Stocco, whose finger promptly performed the action.
The researchers captured this and other similar experiments on camera.
Rao has been studying brain-computer interfacing for more than a decade. He said that it was both “exciting and eerie” to see a thought turned into action by another person’s brain.
“This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his,” he said. “The next step is having a two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”
The diagram below shows how the spooky experiment works: