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Science Technology

Study Shows Direct Brain Interface Between Humans 110

vinces99 writes 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.
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Study Shows Direct Brain Interface Between Humans

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  • by mozumder ( 178398 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:46PM (#48321567)

    I type a comment here, and it goes into your brain.

    This comment is now about steak.

    You are now picturing a juicy steak inside your brain.

    • by koan ( 80826 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:49PM (#48321599)

      Think "orgasm"

    • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:04PM (#48321711)

      I type a comment here, and it goes into your brain.

      But it doesn't go directly into my brain!

      Where "directly" apparently means "via millions of dollars of highly specialized equipment", which is a use that only is only found in headlines on stories like this one.

      "Humans can now transport themselves directly to the store in an automobile!"

      Why is it that when we cut out the use of one organ--our feet in the case of automobiles--we all recognize that only a gibbering idiot would describe the resulting walking-free transportation process as "direct", but in the case of cutting out the use of the mouth almost everyone buys into this idiotic claim that its replacement by millions of dollars of gear is "direct"?

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        Because everything with a computer has been done with "Just one click!" since the internet went big in 1995. No, the previous 500 clicks and hours of configuration don't count, just that final one that does what you want. It's magical!

      • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:03PM (#48322063)
        I don't know, this sounds pretty 'direct' to me since it is sending raw signals into the brain rather then using any of our existing specialized sense organs. The only way it could be more direct is if you started sticking spikes in people's heads or removed parts of their skull and sorts slapped two people's raw exposed brainmeats together.

        As for 'millions of dollars', I am guessing you have never worked in University research. These projects tend to be very shoestring when it comes to budget.
        • That is correct, jythie. The experiment did not cost "millions of dollars", we used equipment that is on the order of few 1,000s (EEG) and maybe 20K (TMS). You can get cheaper versions as well. And all the equipment can be found at your hospital (minus the software the serial cables we built to hack in the back of the machines to sync them). So, it's not stuff you find at Home Depot, but it's not multi-million extravaganza either. And,a s you pointed out, the signal is "direct": neuronal activity is direc
      • What the article describes is more accurately "Brain - Body", or "Brain - Nervous System" communication.

        The Direct-ness of communication between a naturally separate body and brain can be determined because there is an existing Direct scenario to compare with (a naturally connected brain and body). There is however no natural existing scenario of "Direct" in the context of transportation, it's meaning is entirely relative, it is not a good analogy.

        If this technology allows one brain to manipulate the limb o

    • My position too. Telepathy is a nice thing to have, but we already have a thought transport mechanism. Speech is one of the things that make us human, and it helped us to write thoughts down, conserve it for the past in form of written text, and enabled us to build a system that transports thoughts in light speed: the internet.

      • No, that only works for those who speak or read the same language.

        • by erice ( 13380 )

          No, that only works for those who speak or read the same language.

          Vs "thought language" which is likely to be unique to each individual. At least with spoken languages there are strong incentives to iron out the differences so that a different people in a group can communicate. And still there is continuous drift. In the history of human kind, there has been no incentive or even influence to make internal thoughts compatible.

          • There are means to convey emotional state and other concepts universal to all humans, we could only argue about "degree of compatibility" between certain thoughts.

          • Individual differences in thoughts must ultimately rely on individual differences in either anatomy or in patterns of neural activation. As far as we know, anatomy is pretty similar across individuals, and that is why neuroimaging studies can do group-level statistics. We do not know much on the differences between patterns of neural activation, but they also seem consistent across individuals.
      • A word is worth a word, A picture is worth a thousand words, A direct link is worth megabits
        • Looks better on a postcard if you leave out that last bit.

          Reminds me of a hobby I have. I like to take famous moments or quotes and figure out how I could have totally ruined the moment.

          "Four score and seven years ago, we brought forth a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

          "Unless they're not white, don't forget that part. Very important."

      • by jythie ( 914043 )
        Right there you have a good justification, we started with speech yes but we have expanded communication so far beyond that already. We have the written word, we have pictures, we have video, we have music, history is filled with people trying to figure out how to communicate more to each other. Imagine what this type of thing could do for communication, you could teach people physical skills by moving their limbs around rather then depending on language or vision to explain motions. An even greater po
      • There are many uses of brain-to-brain interfaces that go beyond communication. Think of neurorehabilitation, for instance: when a person has a stroke, often s/he has to painfully and slowly re-learn motor commands like walking, grasping, and swallowing. That's because the brain, deprived of previous "motor templates" (which were disrupted by the damage) needs to re-learn from scratch. If you could give the brain partial information (copied from a healthy brain, or from the healthy side of the injured brain)
    • No, your typed words have no meaning to a non-English reading human. This experiment transcends language issues.

      • You cannot say that. Nobody knows how the knowledge is represented in brain. You can think of a particular knowledge the other party has never experienced in the past, will this other party able to extract the meaning from such a thing? I doubt greatly it would be the case. The same thing as some words just do not exist at all in some languages because there was never a need for such words and to designed or describe such things.

        For now, this experiment is at a very basic level which can be represented in a

    • by mansie ( 1601275 )
      Having only read the synopsis i imagine a world where soldiers never set foot on the battlefield in person, but instead possess some poor hapless cannon fodder soul and remote-control them with complete disregard for their life. Just pick up another should the first one fail to perform adequately. Farms where human cannon fodder is born, grown, to die and be discarded on the field of battle. A future genocide, unrivaled, at greater cost than all prior ones combined, a world darker and more bleak than the ma
  • by Anonymous Coward

    right after the badusb exploits.... great idea.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who of you made me write that?!

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    This explains the electrodes on the inside of the ear piece for Google Glass.

    • Re:OK (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:54PM (#48321637)
      Since Google is having trouble legalizing self-driving cars, now they can use this technology to self-drive humans who in turn drive the cars!
      • Since Google is having trouble legalizing self-driving cars, now they can use this technology to self-drive humans who in turn drive the cars!

        Depending on the cost of the implantation and the achievable precision that just might be economically viable...

        For certain tasks, robots are already markedly superior to humans, mostly the ones that we can build around the robot's capabilities; but our general-purpose humanoid robots are still pretty tepid and very expensive. Humans, by contrast, are fairly elegant mechanisms and not terribly expensive to maintain if your standards are low enough.

        With just a dash of neurosurgery, and an appalling dis

  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:51PM (#48321617) Homepage

    Is the "receiver" subjectively aware that the decision to move their hand was imposed from outside, or did it seem like their own spontaneous decisions? (Obviously they're rationally aware it's imposed since they have a giant machine strapped to their head, but what does it "feel like" from inside their mind?)

    • already have a Ouija board.
    • I would imagine it feels like the reflex-test kick in the knee -- you feel the sensation but are surprised it is happening since you are not willing it, and you're merely observing the process.

      Taking it a step further, I imagine one day when someone else can press a trigger to create a vague thought or image in your mind, you'd feel the same -- feel the mental sensation but since you'd not be willing it, you'd be just observing it. (Perhaps similar with eg. a hallucinations? Also something you did not invit

      • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:46PM (#48322307) Homepage

        The article doesn't say though. Some neuroscientists argye that the initiation of action may preceed the initation of the perception of "willing it":

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]

        If that is the case, it could be there's a method of forcing movement that would be perceived as your own actions.

        • by doug141 ( 863552 )

          The article doesn't say though. Some neuroscientists argye that the initiation of action may preceed the initation of the perception of "willing it":

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]

          If that is the case, it could be there's a method of forcing movement that would be perceived as your own actions.

          It could be that every action you've ever taken fits that description of forced movement. Forced by the way your genes built you, or the way your environment influenced the build, or by the resident influence of memes.

          From a certain perspective, a social organism is just the interface between genes and memes. Both use you to replicate, both often fool you into thinking a threat to them is also a threat to you.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nospAm.nerdflat.com> on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @06:58PM (#48321671) Journal

    But what I'd really like to control just by thinking about it is my computer. No more wrist RSI...

    Also, I can think at least 10 times faster than I can type... so I could get more stuff done in the same amount of time.

    • by doctor woot ( 2779597 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:09PM (#48321747)

      I'd really tits be hopeful tits for a future in which tits your thoughts result directly tits in all kinds of work without further input tits. Imagine GIGANTIC ASSES being able to stop a malfunctioning machine part tits from causing damage without needing to scramble tits for the controls or quickly punch in code, safely and assurately. Communicating when tits you'll arrive somewhere shit did anybody see me do that can happen while driving without the need to tits take your eyes off the road to interface with your phone, making orders ass online could be a snap, the opportunities are limitless.

      • no mod points but thanks for that...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Many of us have something called "self-control" and know how to control our thoughts. If your mind is constantly filled with sexual thoughts perhaps you should masturbate more often or less often. If that doesn't work, I suggest you go on disability because your mind is clearly screwed up.

        • Many of us have something called "self-control" and know how to control our thoughts. If your mind is constantly filled with sexual thoughts perhaps you should masturbate more often or less often. If that doesn't work, I suggest you go on disability because your mind is clearly screwed up.

          We don't yet have the technology to know; but I'd bet that 'self control' is a lot more about pruning of spurious thoughts before they reach awareness than it is about the absence of them.

          Perception is much more amenable to study than introspective activity, and we know that that process involves a lot of (often pretty impressive, sometimes embarrassing) culling of irrelevant input to allow conscious focus on a limited set of salient details. This has its advantages (picking a single speaker out of the b

          • Perception is much more amenable to study than introspective activity, and we know that that process involves a lot of (often pretty impressive, sometimes embarrassing) culling of irrelevant input to allow conscious focus on a limited set of salient details. This has its advantages (picking a single speaker out of the background of a noisy room would be pretty nasty to do entirely consciously);

            One of the problems that people with autism face is the inability to filter out sensory input. So while a neurotyp

      • This is the comment of the week.

    • by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:13PM (#48321769)

      Also, I can think at least 10 times faster than I can type... so I could get more stuff done in the same amount of time.

      Brain-computer demo (internal voice):
      "Visit Slashdot"
      "Fucking beta..."
      "No no no, go back!"
      "Damn, Amazon ads are creepy, I was just searching for a new stereo system!"
      "no no no, I don't want to search for a stereo system, go back!"
      "reads post explaining vulnerability that tricks brain-computer interface into issuing commands using your internal reading voice select all files permanently delete confirm"
      "wait! fuck! nooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!"

    • Nice idea, but I can't afford to keep eating out this giraffe.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd be up for running a parallel brain to help me think. Just carry it in a backpack or something. To the bastard farms!

  • I saw this movie, it doesn't turn out well for us humans.
  • Think of all the possibilities this opens up in terms of remote support. We can already control someone mouse and keyboard but now we can do remote hardware changes, machine building, we might even be able to punch someone in the face remotely when they post something stupid. Other ides: Twitch plays this guy, remote skilled labor (woodworking, hair styling, artwork, etc...). Find a bomb that needs defusing? Download the bomb squid app and have the worlds best bomb defuses help you not have a bad day. The p
  • by Ronin Developer ( 67677 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:44PM (#48321963)

    I can't help myself!!!

  • Giant mecha robots are now closer to reality!
  • They may be able to handle brain to brain communication, but they couldn't manage a web server to web browser connection. I got a database error.

  • Baby I am SO ready to plug my brain directly into the Internet!
  • Now if those could be directly controlled by a human brain.

    oops

  • by Hussman32 ( 751772 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:13PM (#48322127)

    1. Who is funding the research?

    The research published in PLOS ONE was initially funded by the U.S. Army Research Office and the UW, with additional support from the Keck Foundation.

    2. What will the Army do with it?

  • by vistic ( 556838 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @08:39PM (#48322269)

    Remotely control the body of another person with your own mind via the internet... the future of siblings playing "Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself! Come on... stop hitting yourself!" never looked brighter.

  • "initially funded by the U.S. Army Research Office"

    lets them pull the trigger by remote.. :-^

  • Isn't this just taking two existing technologies and bolting them together? Asking seriously because that's what it seems like to my know-nothing self.

    Find the place that's fired when the left finger is pressed and then via the internet tell the TMS to fire on the region in that person that will cause the finger to flex.

  • by asjk ( 569258 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @09:13PM (#48322471)
    In watching the video of the experiment there seems to be a lack of subjectivity. When the "receiver" twitched his finger shooting an object someone heard exclaiming, "All right!" This type of feedback has no place in science and shows a predilection of the observer toward an outcome. The observer should be "blinded" to the experimental process.
    • i was thinking the same thing. the exclamation "success!" seemed in the same category.

    • You are wrong. Read the paper (or even the news release) carefully: 1. "All right!" and "Success" were uttered in the Sender's lab, not the Receiver! The Sender can obviously see if the Receiver pressed the button (the video game rocket explodes!) , so saying "All right!" does not alter the experiment. 2. Anyway, the video comes from last year's *demo*, not from the actual experiment. 3. If you read the paper, you would know that during the experiment (and the demo, for that matter), the Receiver was absolu
  • make my sandwich.

  • I don't really need to add to that do I?

  • by BringsApples ( 3418089 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @09:00AM (#48324457)
    Wait till ISIS gets a hold of this, and uses it to remotely radicalize us all! Queue The Matrix music.
  • Anyone else immediately think "Oh great, it's Ghost in the Shell."

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