Two Human Brains Linked, Play ’20 Questions’

I-LABSMedia Coverage, Publication, Research

In the latest advance in brain-to-brain communication, I-LABS researchers demonstrate how two brains collaboratively problem solve.

human brain image

University of Washington researchers recently used a direct brain-to-brain connection to enable pairs of participants to play a question-and-answer game by transmitting signals from one brain to the other over the Internet.

The experiment, detailed September 23 in PLOS ONE, is thought to be the first to show that two brains can be directly linked to allow one person to accurately guess what’s on another person’s mind.

“This is the most complex brain-to-brain experiment, I think, that’s been done to date in humans,” said lead author Andrea Stocco, a faculty member at I-LABS.

“It uses conscious experiences through signals that are experienced visually, and it requires two people to collaborate,” Stocco said.

Co-author Chantel Prat, an I-LABS faculty member, added: “They have to interpret something they’re seeing with their brains.”

Stocco and Prat describe the experiment in a video:

Previously, the researchers have demonstrated the transfer of motor information through the brain-to-brain interface, a finding described in a 2014 research paper in PLOS ONE.

The research team, which includes Rajesh Rao, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, is now exploring the possibility of “brain tutoring,” transferring signals directly from healthy brains to ones that are developmentally impaired or impacted by external factors such as a stroke or accident, or simply to transfer knowledge from teacher to pupil.

The projected is funded by a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

Read the university news release.
Read the research paper in PLOS ONE.

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