• UW researchers link brains together

    By: Alison Grande

    Updated:

    Ever wonder what someone else is thinking? UW researchers just made it possible to find out.

    Researchers at the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences were able to transmit signals from one brain to another over the internet.

    "We're making steps into a possible future we could only dream of when we were kids," said Andy Stocco, assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

    Stocco and his team used a brain to brain interface. According to the research, one person wore a cap connected to an EEG machine that recorded brain activity.

    The other participant had a magnetic coil positioned behind their head.

    Researchers asked a series of questions.

    One person answered "yes" or "no" by focusing on one of two flashing LED lights on a monitor.

    The "yes" answer generated a response intense enough to stimulate the visual cortex and cause the other person's brain to see a flash of light.

    “So we have this method of recording brain signals from a person and we transmit these signals to another person and encode them through using a magnet basically that sits over the head and can influence brain activity,” described UW Senior Darby Losey.

    The experiment was done in dark rooms in two UW labs about a mile apart. Five pairs of participants played 20 rounds of the question and answer game.

    The transfer of information between brains could impact the ability to collaborate and communicate in the future, even someday creating the possibility to transfer emotion.

    "Then we can create a connection so that what the person feels is exactly what the second person feels as well," said Stocco.

    The transfer of information between brains could be used in the medical field: “Where a brain that has suffered for instance a stroke, or some other disease, can be using the signals of a healthy brain to help recover function.”

    The next step for the lab is to transfer more complex information.

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