Direct Brain to Brain Communication

Wednesday, September 03, 2014


In a first-of-its-kind study, an international team of neuroscientists and robotics engineers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have demonstrated the viability of direct brain–to–brain communication in humans. The findings explained the successful transmission of information via internet between intact scalps of two human subjects located about 5,000 miles apart.

Previous studies on EEG (electroencephalography) based brain–computer interaction (BCI) typically made use of communication between a human brain and computer. In these studies, the electrodes attached to a person's scalp records electrical currents in the brain as a person thinks of an action–thought such as consciously moving his arms or legs. The computer then interprets the signal and translates it to a control output such as a robot or wheelchair. In the current study, the research team added a second human brain on the other end of the system. Four healthy participants, aged 28 to 50 years participated in the study and one of them was assigned to the BCI branch whose job was to transmit words to the other three that were assigned to a computer–brain interface (CBI) branch.

Through EEG, the research team first translated the greetings ‘hola’ and ‘ciao’ into a binary code and then emailed the results from India to France. The CBI in France then transmitted the message to the receiver's brain through non–invasive brain stimulation. Thereafter, the subjects experienced the messages as phosphenes–flashes of light in peripheral vision. The light appeared in numerical sequences that enabled the receiver to decode the information in the message without feeling anything.

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