Communicating person to person through the power of thought alone (w/ Video)

Oct 06, 2009
Dr. Chris James demonstrating brain to brain communication using BCI to transmit thoughts, translated as a series of binary digits, over the internet to another person whose computer receives the digits. Credit: University of Southampton

New research from the University of Southampton has demonstrated that it is possible for communication from person to person through the power of thought alone.

Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI) can be used for capturing brain signals and translating them into commands that allow humans to control (just by thinking) devices such as computers, robots, rehabilitation technology and environments.

This experiment goes a step further and was conducted by Dr Christopher James from the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research. The aim was to expand the current limits of this technology and show that brain-to-brain (B2B) communication is possible.

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Dr James comments: "Whilst BCI is no longer a new thing and person to person communication via the nervous system was shown previously in work by Professor Kevin Warwick from the University of Reading, here we show, for the first time, true brain to brain interfacing. We have yet to grasp the full implications of this but there are various scenarios where B2B could be of benefit such as helping people with severe debilitating muscle wasting diseases, or with the so-called 'locked-in' syndrome, to communicate and it also has applications for gaming."

His experiment had one person using BCI to transmit thoughts, translated as a series of binary digits, over the internet to another person whose computer receives the digits and transmits them to the second user's brain through flashing an LED lamp.

While attached to an EEG amplifier, the first person would generate and transmit a series of binary digits, imagining moving their left arm for zero and their right arm for one. The second person was also attached to an EEG amplifier and their PC would pick up the stream of binary digits and flash an LED lamp at two different frequencies, one for zero and the other one for one. The pattern of the flashing LEDS is too subtle to be picked by the second person, but it is picked up by electrodes measuring the visual cortex of the recipient.

The encoded information is then extracted from the activity of the second user and the PC can decipher whether a zero or a one was transmitted. This shows true brain-to-brain activity.

Source: University of Southampton

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User comments : 8

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Rdavid
Oct 06, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Simonsez
not rated yet Oct 06, 2009
Brain to brain communication? Sounds like psionics are here!

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke
Scott_T
not rated yet Oct 06, 2009
wow, moving your arms to transmit data. here all this time I've been using my fingers.
PPihkala
1 / 5 (1) Oct 06, 2009
I think that the demonstrated bit rates are very bad. I can type much faster than this one bit per four second rate makes possible to transfer. Of course if one is paralyzed, then this might be possible starting point for a better system.
Simonsez
not rated yet Oct 07, 2009
Remember also that the first modems were 14k, and within a decade speeds had improved to 56k, within two decades we hit several hundred and within 3 decades we have 1M+ speeds. This is just the first serviceable version, give it 5 years and see how it has improved.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2009
Remember also that the first modems were 14k

The first modem I worked with had 300 Baud.
austux
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2009
The first modem I worked with had 300 Baud.

An Acoustic Coupler. The First Nice Modem, based on the World Modem chip, included the new, improved 1200/75 bitrate. A few years later, a really cool ISA-card-based modem would do 9600/9600.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2009
An Acoustic Coupler.

Yes. Thanks for freshing up my memory.
gwrede
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 14, 2009
I guess the point of the article is that now even scientists are aware that there are methods for fully paralysed people to communicate, albeit in a yes/no style.

Strap an EEG machine on the patient, and tell him to think of something that makes the waves different on the screen. Consider that a yes answer. Then people can ask yes/no questions and the patient can answer.

This helps a lot of relatives of paralysed people, where their doctors have dismissed the strategy as whimsical. Now it's official and the article can be quoted to the doctor.

The patient could even send arbitrary messages, if an ASCII chart is held in his view, so that he can "think" the binary codes of letters. I wish this would become standard procedure in hospitals. Accident victims with temporary paralysis would benefit too. For example they could tell the doctor where it hurts, or what they need.

In time a portable gadget could be developed for this.

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