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Vulcan Mind Meld Gets Closer To Reality

posted Aug 30, 2013, 12:16 PM by Ellen Pearlman

Researchers at the University of Washington worked really hard over their summer vacations. They produced the first non-invasive human-to-brain interface.


An overview of the human-to-brain interface. This would have been so great to use during  seances

 One guy sat in a lab with an EEG cap on his head using his thoughts to control a video game by imagining, but not using his right hand. The signal from his brain traveled over the internet. In another lab across the campus, another guy sat in a lab with a purple speedo cap and a type of magnet on his head called TMS and received the impulse the EEG guy sent, right into his brain (non-invasively). Voila! His right hand jerked (but did not twerk). He did not see or have any idea what the first guy was doing. This is similar to the human brain controlling a severed cockroach leg I blogged about on July 30th, except this was between two willing human beings, and it travelled over the internet. 


If only they had known in this 18th century photo about human-brain-computer interfaces!


This means if the “Receiver” gets the signal correctly his right hand jerks involuntarily

imageFirst guy wearing and EEG cap looking at a video game moving the little white ball into the big blue ball by thinking about, but not actually moving his right hand

The second guy gets his brain stimulated using the “TMS of Motor Cortex Region.”


Second guy wearing purple speedo cap involuntarily clicks a key on the keyboard below his right hand when he receives a signal over the internet from the first guy, who is thinking about moving his right hand

The two basic technologies used were electroencephalography (EEG) on the first guy and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for the second guy.  The second guy has a magnetic coil over his head, which is the white plate with the perched duck-like looking thing on it. It was placed on top of his left motor cortex, which controls the right hand. He was also wearing earplugs, and could not see what was actually going on in the computer game behind him. 

Guy number one is Rajesh Rao, who published a book in 2011 about brain computer interfaces. Guy number two is Rao’s researcher Andrea Stocco. A whole bunch of computer science students wrote the actual code to translate the brain signals. Stocco is the one who coined the pithy sobriquet “Vulcan Mind Meld.”