Imagine being able to communicate with other people through thought, as Darth Vader does with Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. It seems crazy, but what until now was no more than a millennial dream, duly exploited by literature and fantasy films and science fiction, is closer than ever to become a reality.
A research team from the University of Washington in Seattle and the Carnegie Mellon has just published a study that shows the possibility of transferring thoughts directly to the brain of other people.
Attention, spoiler: sending ideas to other human beings through the mind had already been achieved before. It was achieved in 2015 by researcher Andrea Stocco, from the University of Washington in Seattle. This same scientist has now managed to include a third person in the equation, creating what has already been baptized as the first cerebral social network of history.
Stocco and his colleagues have created a tool that allows solving a kind of Tetris in a collaborative way BrainNet (as it is called the aforementioned network) connects the participants in the communication through two tools: the electroencephalogram (EEG), which records the bioelectric activity of the brain (usually through a kind of diadema), and magnetic stimulation transcranial (EMT), which allows controlled interference in normal brain activity.
"Our results increase the possibility of creating future brain-to-brain interfaces that allow the collaborative resolution of problems by several people through a social network of connected brains," said Stocco and his five colleagues at the abstract of your research, that You can check this link.
How exactly does this social network of brains work? Very briefly, the idea on which the system pivots is that the brain emits different electrical signals according to what it perceives, and that people can modify these signals with relative ease. For example, if we see a blinking light at 15 Hz, the brain emits a signal at that frequency; if we look, instead, in a 17-Hz, the emission is adjusted to that new frequency.
On the one hand, the EEG can reliably detect this change in frequency. On the other hand, the EMG is capable of manipulating sensations: for example, when we receive an impulse of a specific frequency we see a luminous flash.
Combining both tools, the team has managed to get three players to exchange information regarding the position of very simple pieces. It is a first step, although firm, in the race to communicate with thought. In any case, the authors of the advance are convinced that their network is scalable: with time and enough technology, we can connect as many brains as we want to the network.