Brain Hacking

Researchers at the University of Washington have given very real meaning to the concept of mind control. What once was only seen in science fiction movies and television shows has become a reality. No need to be alarmed just yet though. Total mind control is still far from our grasp. In fact, Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco have just scratched the surface by being the first to “connect” two human brains non-invasively via the internet using brain recordings and a magnetic stimulator.

Rao, a professor of computer science and engineering, teamed up with Stocco, an assistant professor of psychology, to accomplish the feat after 10 years of research on the subject. By recording electronic brain signals using an electroencephalography (EEG) machine and sending them via the internet to a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) coil located on Stocco’s scalp, he was able to convey the signal to press the spacebar key on a keyboard from clear across the Washington University campus using his mind. EEG and TMS are niether uncommon or new technologies. Both have been widely used by doctors to study and diagnose brain ailments for many years.

Referring to the experiment on August 12th Rao stated, “It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain.” while Stocco claimed the involuntary action felt more like a tic brought on by nerves. The two researchers imagine the technique could be used to assist a passenger on an airplane fly and/or land a plane if the pilot should become unresponsive or even assist disabled citizens to communicate more clearly with those around them. The technology could even break down language barriers since the signals being sent and received by the brain have no roots in language, but are universal.

This video created by the researchers at the University of Washington shows how the experiment was set up and the outcome.

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