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Technology links the minds of two people together to aid another

As things currently stand, there is no evidence for telepathic communication (the purported transmission of information from one person to another without using any technology or physical interaction), and the concept remains lodged in the dustbin of pseudoscience. However, some form of mind-to-mind connectivity appears to be edging close, based on research from the University of Washington. Scientists have invented a technique that enables three people to work together to solve a problem using just their minds.

The technique is centered around a program called BrainNet. With this, three people play a Tetris-style game using a brain-to-brain interface (which some researchers refer to as a biological computer). The recent exercise demonstrates the first brain-to-brain network of more than two people. The experiment also shows how a person being able to both receive and send information to others using only their brain.

The exercise involved two people designated as ‘Senders’. Both individuals can see a block on a computer screen but they are unable to control the game. A third person is described as the ‘Receiver’, and this person can is able to instruct the game whether to rotate a block to successfully complete a line (as with classic Tetris). Each Sender makes the decision whether the block should be rotated or not and uses their brain to send a signal, via a transmitter (electroencephalography caps), to the Receiver – these were as simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ instructions. The Receiver reacts to the information and sends a corresponding command to the game via their own brain.

According to lead researcher, Dr. Rajesh Rao: “We wanted to know if a group of people could collaborate using only their brains. That’s how we came up with the idea of BrainNet: where two people help a third person solve a task.” The success rate in terms of receiving commands was 81 percent of the time (13 success out of the 16 trials that were run).

The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports, with the science paper titled “BrainNet: A Multi-Person Brain-to-Brain Interface for Direct Collaboration Between Brains.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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