Scientists demonstrate telepathy, well, sort of

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Researchers at the University of Southampton claim they have been able to communicate person-to-person through the power of thought alone.


It's not proper telepathy, unfortunately, but a development that builds on Brain-Computer Interfacing (BCI) - capturing brain signals and translating them into commands for computers, robots, rehabilitation technology and virtual reality environments.


"Whilst BCI is no longer a new thing, and person-to-person communication via the nervous system was shown previously in work by Professor Kevin Warwick from the University of Reading, here we show, for the first time, true brain to brain interfacing," said Dr Christopher James from the University's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research.


"We have yet to grasp the full implications of this, but there are various scenarios where B2B could be of benefit, such as helping people with severe debilitating muscle wasting diseases or with the so-called 'locked-in' syndrome to communicate, and it also has applications for gaming."


While attached to an EEG amplifier, one person generated and transmitted a series of binary digits, imagining moving their left arm for zero and their right arm for one.


The second person's PC picked up the stream of binary digits and flashed an LED lamp at two different frequencies, one for zero and the other for one. The pattern of the flashing LEDS was too subtle to be picked up by the second person, but was captured by electrodes measuring the visual cortex of the recipient.


The encoded information was then extracted from the brain activity of the second user - and the PC was able to decipher whether a zero or a one was transmitted.


You can watch them at it here