|A Blog by The Dore (Theodore)||
Communication is an important aspect of human and animal life. Without communication we cannot complete our tasks, resolve our problems, share our ideas, and develop and improve our society. There are many forms of communication which include auditory, visual, tactile, and verbal information. To convey this information, we use our bodies and technological devices such as computers and phones. However, is there actually any other mode of communication that is available to us humans? Researchers at the University of Washington may have begun creating the foundations of an entirely new way to relay information in a recent experiment.
The two participants in the experiment - one was the "sender" and the other was the "receiver" - was tasked in completing a video game where they had to fire a cannon to destroy rockets that were going to destroy a city. Only the "sender" can see what is going on in the game, while the "receiver" could not; however, the "sender" does not have the key to click to fire the cannon, while the "receiver" does. In order to fire the cannon, the "sender" must engage in motor imagery of the right hand, which means that he must imagine moving his right hand. When the "sender" does so, the researchers use electroencephalography (EEG) to record the brain signals produced. The EEG recording is then sent over the internet to a computer that interprets the signals and sent to the transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machine. The TSM machine then uses the interpreted data of the motor imagery to stimulate the brain of the "receiver", which would cause the "receiver" to involuntarily move his right hand and thus clicking the fire button to fire the cannon.
What this experiment shows is that information from the brain can be extracted noninvasively from one brain using EEG and then transmitted using TSM to solve a task through direct brain-to-brain communication. The true importance of this experiment, though, is that it is possible to transfer information from one brain to another. Even though the experiment only demonstrated one person being able to move the hand of another person slightly to play a relatively easy video game, it is the realization of the potential of this field of technology that opened the gates to future development. Will we speak with others by simply thinking of what we want to say? Can we give other people information by injecting it into their mind? Can we control other human beings? These questions makes us think about how this technology will affect our future. Again we come back to the idea that technology can prove to be both advantageous and dangerous. Whereas we would be able to communicate on a higher level, would our minds, the most private area of our being, be safe? For further information about the experiment, please visit the following link: http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~rao/brain2brain/experiment.html.