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Science Technology

UW Researchers Demonstrate First Direct Communication Between Human Brains 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-just-going-to-remote-in-and-fix-this-problem-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Opening a fascinating set of ethical and legal issues, researchers at UW Seattle have demonstrated the first device to allow direct communication between two humans' brains. Effectively, they allowed a subject to play a video game with another subject's fingers. For now, the communication is uni-directional, though they intend to extend it to bi-directional. EEG sensors are attached to a subject's motor cortex to detect 'motor imagery' — imagined hand movement, in this case. That activity is translated and sent over a computer network where it triggers a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) located over Subject 2's motor cortex. Effectively, Subject 1 imagines moving their hand, and Subject 2's hand moved."

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UW Researchers Demonstrate First Direct Communication Between Human Brains

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  • by He Who Has No Name (768306) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:41PM (#44689671)

    ...bring on the Kaiju, ultimate dutch rudder, we need a young priest and an old priest... ...did I miss any obvious ones?

  • by bosef1 (208943) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:43PM (#44689693)

    to the "Stop Hitting Yourself" game.

    • by aralin (107264)

      I'm so disappointed, this was not first used on the researcher's girlfriend to give himself a better handjob :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:43PM (#44689697)

    there was a rat under a chef's hat, right?

  • by cp5i6 (544080) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:45PM (#44689731)
    of inet pr0n!
  • by themushroom (197365) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:46PM (#44689741) Homepage

    Subject 1 imagines moving their hand, and Subject 2's hand moved.

    I think I saw this premise in an adult movie once

    • by N0Man74 (1620447)

      You forgot Step 1, sit on your hand long enough that it falls asleep and feels like someone else's...

      Then when it's controlled by someone else, it's even more convincing.

  • Next time I murder a dude I am total using this as my defense. "But your honor its science, you can't argue with science otherwise you would have to toss all the blood evidence" Yeah, they don't let me talk in court anymore...
    • by geekoid (135745)

      I'm using it as my offences, as in getting the judge to strangle themselves and the bailiff to shoot the jurors.
      .

  • Phew good thing that article a few hours back has us covered.
  • This isn't creepy at all, and I see no way this will be abused. I can't wait!
  • until people discover they can send those signals without the computer inbetween! Just a matter of sending the proper signal to the proper antenna.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator -- Hmmmmm, I will wait a few more days.

  • by Behrooz Amoozad (2831361) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:06PM (#44689965)

    Have you considered the very real posibility that brain may not have proper mandatory authorization and intput verification and anyone with local access can say stop your heart?

    • Definitely. Brute force attempts can often result in the person's brain being bricked. And that will definitely stop their heart.
    • by Smallpond (221300)

      If you want to stop someone's heart there are much cheaper ways. However, this may be the first one that works over the internet.

    • What if you "recorded" someone having a heart attack and then dying, them played that back over the interface? I don't think this device works on that level though, or else the receiver's heart and other automatic functions might have an issue...they might even sync up, or just freak out and beat twice as fast with a weird rhythm. It probably depends on where and what they are recording, and how close they are to the particular nerve bundle carrying those signals.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Have you considered the very real posibility that brain may not have proper mandatory authorization and intput verification and anyone with local access can say stop your heart?

      Now I have. I'm pretty sure that anyone with local access can't stop the heart. I've never heard of anyone being consciously able to stop their own heart or even temporarily stall it like one can hold ones breath.
      If I were to guess I would say that the heart signal works on a hard-coded enough level to make it mentally impossible to stop.

      Now, holding the breath for someone else could be a fun experiment.

  • Oujia board (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:06PM (#44689969) Homepage Journal

    Sally: Mom, Bobby is moving my hand, tell him to stop.
    Bobby: I'm not moving it.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:08PM (#44689993) Journal

    ...with quantum entanglement as a transmission method, and you'd really have something...

  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:12PM (#44690055)

    I thought it was you, just trying out a new body!

  • by Antipater (2053064) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:14PM (#44690073)
    Can they record and save the impulse patterns? I can see it now - just pop on my brain-stimulating hat, hit play, and I can finally Dougie!
    • - I know Kung Fu!
      - Show me!

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I know you're being funny, but I wonder... sure, you're telling the motor cortex to do something... but it's still doing it. I wonder if this "trains" it the same way as doing it voluntarily would.

  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:15PM (#44690087) Homepage

    Okay, let's just speculate about all the ways this could be misused:

    *-- Vending machines that make you reach into your pocket and pull out money whenever you pass by them.

    *-- Rich handicapped people buying time on poor people's bodies.

    *-- Rich people buying time on poor people's bodies, in order to do criminal things.

    *-- Police officers with a 'lay down with your hands behind your back' raygun.

    I'm sure I missed a few, any suggestions?

    • Yes: Drive your car at 100mph into a palm tree in the middle of the night for no reason... oh wait...

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:42PM (#44690389)

      I'm sure I missed a few, any suggestions?

      My wife could use this to make me wash the dishes.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well, she has to stand there staring at you, imagining herself doing all dishes, so I don't think she's going to save much effort here.

    • by EmperorArthur (1113223) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @04:26PM (#44690777)

      *-- Rich handicapped people buying time on poor people's bodies.

      *-- Rich people buying time on poor people's bodies, in order to do criminal things.

      They made a movie about that, except that it was "Rich people buying time on peoples bodies to do whatever the hell they wanted," and "Rich people buying time on death row inmate's bodies to make them kill each other."

      Gamer [imdb.com]

      It still has some major plot holes that need to be overlooked, but I thought it was a decent sci-fi action flic.

    • by DRMShill (1157993)

      Star Trek level technology pops up and this is where your mind goes first?

      I'm thinking you're a sippy cup is half empty kind of guy.

    • *-- Vending machines that make you reach into your pocket and pull out money whenever you pass by them.
      Vending machine would need a huge magnetic field, to hit passersby a few feet away from it in that particular spot. Assuming it was able to target the magnetic field well enough not to simply illuminate everything in the targets brain at once (doubtful), then it will still destroy all of the targets credit cards, cell phones and anything else that might be invented to let you pay vending machines in the ne

  • Good. After it turned out the government really was watching all of us, the conspiracists can have something new to play with :)

  • by hendrikboom (1001110) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:32PM (#44690279)

    Would this help people with locked-in syndrome? Would they be able to use someone else's hand to act? to communicate?
    Which one of the two people would have to have Parkinson's to make the resulting hand movements irregular?
    Etc., Etc.

    -- hendrik

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      I think this requires you to pick up signals from the originator's motor cortex. I don't know anything about the syndrome, so unless there is something to pick up you're not going to get anywhere.

      That said there could be signals, and they just don't go anywhere or are not strong enough... in which case I bet you could get it to work.

      The reverse might help too! By making the cortex do things, it does them, and consider brain plasticity...

    • by tpjunkie (911544)
      Excellent idea, from my understanding of the process demonstrated above, yes, this could work, as this would be above the neurological level of the lesion in most patients suffering from locked in syndrome. - I am a physician.
  • What about emotions or perhaps even thoughts?
    Will it be possible?

  • Couples in long distance relationships eagerly await the results.

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      Without translating sight or touch, that could be really painful. If they can transfer touch sensations, well then - this is even more useful.

  • ... well, they sure do now.

  • FTFA: "Stocco said years from now the technology could be used, for example, by someone on the ground to help a flight attendant or passenger land an airplane if the pilot becomes incapacitated."

    Or, you know, use fly-by-wire. A normal computer-to-computer interface is sufficient here, and already exists and is in widespread use.

    • An example that is flawed for sure, what about a situation where someone needs emergency surgery and this could be performed by proxy by a willing bystander? There are definitely potential uses for a mature version of this technology, most of them are quite scary though. I do not like the idea of this being done to me. In reality though I think for all the 'save the day' scenarios in which this could be useful it would have to be a ubiquitous technology, now that's pretty damn unlikely even if it does matu
      • We might have a medical bag in the future that has a helmet with the magnetic transceiver in it. An immediate application would be field surgery, with a physician in a safe place performing life-saving operations in the troop transport via the vehicles encrypted sat signal. pop it on, do the work, and your good. Perhaps combine it with an immersive 3D computer technologies and remote cameras (and maybe even a bit of a finger/hand level feedback loop) this could go a long way. I can see a whole industry
  • One step closer...

    Mwahahahahahaha

  • What's next, line dancing?
  • ...clearly, this has MAJOR applications for the porn industry.

    Holy smokes.

  • ...Computers hack into YOU!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Could this be used by an expert to teach somebody something physical and reinforce their muscle memory? IE some physical skill like playing guitar could be taught - at least the physical practice part - by using this?

    what about general physical therapy?

    This sounds totally wicked.

  • For real, so much of this brain research stuff it scary as heck to me. Even the so called ethical uses seem pretty creepy.

    There was another research piece where they could associate negative or positive emotions with memories artificially. Some genius though it might be a way to fight PTSD, except I think he kind of overlooked the possible side effect associating positive emotions with death and carnage.

    • by elucido (870205)

      For real, so much of this brain research stuff it scary as heck to me. Even the so called ethical uses seem pretty creepy.

      There was another research piece where they could associate negative or positive emotions with memories artificially. Some genius though it might be a way to fight PTSD, except I think he kind of overlooked the possible side effect associating positive emotions with death and carnage.

      It depends on how it is developed but if its a top down government technology there are none.

  • .... raise my right hand.

  • These medical types must be blind to all the technical equipment in their "direct" communication path...

  • Now it could be possible to control an Avatar ? I really don't like the way this is going. We are losing our privacy. Now in a few generations even our thoughts won't be private ? I am all for learning how to build bionic limbs and controlling them... but mind an actual link from one brain to another individuals brain or cortex ? NO THANKS.
  • Why did the Ren 'n Stimpy Happy Helmet just jump into my thoughts?

    Oh no...

  • Could this be an effective path to "teaching" muscle memory quickly with an experienced subject sharing to an inexperienced one? Wanna play guitar? Let's hook up and I'll get you through the awkwardness of some basic chord changes quickly........
    If the impulses for an action came from external source instead of a persons own brain would there be a "memory" effect? How far up or down the neural pathway would it have to trigger the action for "memory" of any sort? If the subject is experiencing the action wou

  • I predict that this will advance the science of cyberdildonics to the max. I can see all sorts of uses for this type of thing.
  • I thought "wow, cool, I need to see that video," then realized it would be a video of someone watching someone else play a video game. How could I tell who's controlling the hands?

    Whew, time waste avoided.

    (Still, cool.)

  • They used to say that you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.

    Now you can. With your friend's own hand.

  • So we now have laboratory mind control? /golfclap
    Christians have been doing this for 2000 years now. It may be lowtech but it's definitely mind control.

  • So NOW is anybody working on a software framework for a 5-senses UI to go with the coming datajacks?

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