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Mind-Reading Experiment Sends Thoughts Over the Internet

Mind-Reading Experiment Sends Thoughts Over the Internet

University of Washington graduate student Jose Ceballos, the experiment’s “respondent,” wears a cap connected to an electroencephalography (EEG) machine that records brain activity and sends a response to a second participant, the “inquirer,” over the Internet. Researchers have managed to send thoughts over the Internet, using a direct brain-to-brain connection and a big magnet.

It’s not very efficient — the volunteers could only send “yes” or “no” answers to one another. But using EEG (electroencephalographs) to read brain signals, and a big magnet on the other end to transmit it, their players got the correct answer 72 percent of the time.

“This is the most complex brain-to-brain experiment, I think, that’s been done to date in humans,” said Andrea Stocco, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington.

“They have to interpret something they’re seeing with their brains,” added Stocco’s colleague Chantel Prat, associate professor of psychology. “It’s not something they’ve ever seen before.”

The volunteers played a version of the “20 questions” game. One person looked at a word on a screen — in one test it was the name of an animal — and the other, sitting in a lab a mile away, had three chances to guess what the animal was. To make it simple, the questions were pre-arranged: “Can it fly?”, “Is it a mammal?” and “Is it a pet?”

There were eight possible answers: shark, turtle, bear, dog, vulture, parakeet, bat and sugar glider. That last one was added to make the experiment more entertaining, Stocco said.

The volunteer in the know, called the respondent, could look at either a “yes” or “no” flashing light on a computer screen. Her thought patterns were recorded as EEG activity and transmitted over the internet to a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device attached to the back of the head of the […]

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