August 29, 2013 – How cool would it be to be able to control someone else's mind? You could get them to do your chores for you without ever having to lift a finger! Two University of Washington scientists have brought that longtime fantasy one step closer to becoming a reality.
Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco have invented special caps that allow two different brains to communicate. In the video below Rao sends a video to Stocco's brain using the Internet, which makes him move his right hand to fire cannons in a video game.
"When [Rao] was supposed to fire a cannon at a target, he imagined moving his right hand (being careful not to actually move his hand), causing a cursor to hit the "fire" button. Almost [instantly], Stocco, who wore noise-cancelling earbuds and wasn't looking at a computer screen, involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar in front of him, as if firing the cannon," a press release explained.
Brain-to-brain communication has been done before between rats and from humans to rats, but never in humans to humans. It also isn't an easy thing to do. Rao had to train his mind to make the brainwave for his hand movement strong enough so that it could be detected by the computer, otherwise Stocco's hand wouldn't move.
Once the computer program sees the brain signal it is sent through the Internet to another computer that is connected to a magnetic device that is positioned right on top of the spot of the brain that controls the movement of the right hand.
Electrical currents from our brain make parts of our bodies move the way we want them to do. All that this experiment does is trick body parts into following orders from another brain.
"When the magnetic field changes, it creates an electrical current, so a signal is sent through the cortex of the brain and excites the neurons, simulating what happens naturally," said Chantel Prat, an assistant professor of psychology who was a part of the project.
Thankfully having someone else control your movements doesn't hurt. Stocco said the hand twitches just feel just like a nervous tic.