People often wonder if it is possible to share thoughts without actually saying or writing something.
The idea, often dubbed as telepathy, is nothing more than a belief, but thanks to sophisticated brain-interfacing technologies, some engineers have accomplished something eerily similar.
They've created a brain network that lets three individuals share thoughts and play a game of Tetris.
Here are the details.
Brain interface tools
Brain signal generation, mapping
In order to transmit thoughts from one person to another, the team created a brain-to-brain network -BrainNet - using electroencephalograms (EEG) and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
EEG maps brain signals, while TMS transmits those signals to the other party. Both tools have already been used for direct two-way interaction, but in this case, the new network scales it up to a group of three.
The experiment conducted via BrainNet
To transmit thoughts, the team started the game and connected three individuals, all in separate rooms, on the newly-developed network.
The first two were allowed to see the game, while the third didn't see the bottom half and was required to act on the commands they transmitted.
The senders looked at how the falling block had to be rotated and issued commands.
But, how the commands were issued to the receiver?
After seeing how a block had to be adjusted, the senders looked at different LEDs - low frequency for rotation & high frequency for no rotation.
This triggered different intensity of signals in their brains and activated EEG to convert those signals to a message via BrainNet.
BrainNet then transmitted that signal to the receiver.
How the receiver perceives the signals?
The receiver wore TMS, which helped him perceive the signal. The device uses changing magnetic fields to induce non-lethal electric activity in specific areas of the brain and is used for treating depression.
However, in this case, it was applied in such a way that the receiver got a sensation of light. This signified the block had to be rotated and triggered accurate reaction.
Technology still in nascent stage
While the three-way communication is effective, it is imperative to note that the technology is still in a nascent stage and requires added intervention.
However, the work does show that TMS and EEG advancement could eventually lead people to transmit more complex information and at a much faster rate.
Not to mention, the possibility could lead to some privacy concerns as well.