Brain-to-Brain Interface

In Convergence (and it's forthcoming sequel, Emergence), I write about the sharing of memories via digital files and cybernetic implants. It's based on real research, and a lot of stuff that DARPA is working on made its way into the book. While my novel is definitely high on the "fiction" end of science-fiction, we seem to be getting closer every day to making some of these topics that I and other author's write about. One of the elements in Convergence is a communications system that allows for brain-to-brain transmissions, and is basically like having a cell phone or web-cam implanted in your head. Well, leave it up to researchers at the University of Washington to pull it off. Granted, these are minor steps forward, but it shows that there's certainly a potential for such things to occur in the future, and that the technology already exists, even if only small and limited ways, to make it happen.


From UW Today:

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.


The research team combined two kinds of noninvasive instruments and fine-tuned software to connect two human brains in real time. The process is fairly straightforward. One participant is hooked to an electroencephalography machine that reads brain activity and sends electrical pulses via the Web to the second participant, who is wearing a swim cap with a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil placed near the part of the brain that controls hand movements.

A transcranial magnetic stimulation coil

Using this setup, one person can send a command to move the hand of the other by simply thinking about that hand movement.


Now, with a new $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, the UW research team is taking the work a step further in an attempt to decode and transmit more complex brain processes.

With the new funding, the research team will expand the types of information that can be transferred from brain to brain, including more complex visual and psychological phenomena such as concepts, thoughts and rules.

There's more to be had at the UW Today link above, so go give it a read.

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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