Direct brain interface between humans

November 8, 2014

Sometimes, words just complicate things. What if our brains could communicate directly with each other, bypassing the need for language?

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.

At the time of the first experiment in August 2013, the UW team was the first to demonstrate two human brains communicating in this way. The researchers then tested their brain-to-brain interface in a more comprehensive study, published Nov. 5 in the journal PLOS ONE.

“The new study brings our brain-to-brain interfacing paradigm from an initial demonstration to something that is closer to a deliverable technology,” said co-author Andrea Stocco, a research assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Now we have replicated our methods and know that they can work reliably with walk-in participants.”

Collaborator Rajesh Rao, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering, is the lead author on this work.

The research team combined two kinds of noninvasive instruments and fine-tuned software to connect two human brains in real time. The process is fairly straightforward. One participant is hooked to an electroencephalography machine that reads brain activity and sends electrical pulses via the Web to the second participant, who is wearing a swim cap with a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil placed near the part of the brain that controls hand movements.

Using this setup, one person can send a command to move the hand of the other by simply thinking about that hand movement.

The UW study involved three pairs of participants. Each pair included a sender and a receiver with different roles and constraints. They sat in separate buildings on campus about a half mile apart and were unable to interact with each other in any way — except for the link between their brains.

Each sender was in front of a computer game in which he or she had to defend a city by firing a cannon and intercepting rockets launched by a pirate ship. But because the senders could not physically interact with the game, the only way they could defend the city was by thinking about moving their hand to fire the cannon.

Across campus, each receiver sat wearing headphones in a dark room — with no ability to see the computer game — with the right hand positioned over the only touchpad that could actually fire the cannon. If the brain-to-brain interface was successful, the receiver’s hand would twitch, pressing the touchpad and firing the cannon that was displayed on the sender’s computer screen across campus.

Researchers found that accuracy varied among the pairs, ranging from 25 to 83 percent. Misses mostly were due to a sender failing to accurately execute the thought to send the “fire” command. The researchers also were able to quantify the exact amount of information that was transferred between the two brains.

Another research team from the company Starlab in Barcelona, Spain, recently published results in the same journal showing direct communication between two human brains, but that study only tested one sender brain instead of different pairs of study participants and was conducted offline instead of in real time over the Web.

Now, with a new $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, the UW research team is taking the work a step further in an attempt to decode and transmit more complex brain processes.

With the new funding, the research team will expand the types of information that can be transferred from brain to brain, including more complex visual and psychological phenomena such as concepts, thoughts and rules.

They’re also exploring how to influence brain waves that correspond with alertness or sleepiness. Eventually, for example, the brain of a sleepy airplane pilot dozing off at the controls could stimulate the copilot’s brain to become more alert.

The project could also eventually lead to “brain tutoring,” in which knowledge is transferred directly from the brain of a teacher to a student.

“Imagine someone who’s a brilliant scientist but not a brilliant teacher. Complex knowledge is hard to explain — we’re limited by language,” said co-author Chantel Prat, a faculty member at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and a UW assistant professor of psychology.

Other UW co-authors are Joseph Wu of computer science and engineering; Devapratim Sarma and Tiffany Youngquist of bioengineering; and Matthew Bryan, formerly of the UW.

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.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Michelle Ma. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Rajesh P. N. Rao, Andrea Stocco, Matthew Bryan, Devapratim Sarma, Tiffany M. Youngquist, Joseph Wu, Chantel S. Prat. A Direct Brain-to-Brain Interface in Humans. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e111332 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111332


  1. I had gotten the headphonesof our mother towards moms day, and she absolutely liked that! It really is really attractive headphonesas well as the stating in the card that will comes into the container is very emotional!! And good of beads are very good!

  2. I had gotten our headphonesfor the mother of parents evening, furthermore she absolutely loved that! It really is really attractive headphonesas well as the suggesting on the card it goes within the container is very emotional!! As well as the premium of beads is actually very good!

  3. I have it being a gifts for the my personal sister, satisfied mom. She adored it!! I was scared they is will be besides limited because of the past evaluations and exactly how this seemed once I got any top, but it healthy extremely well. That appearance gorgeous at and in your lovely package it really is presented at.

  4. I have bought your brand name out of bracelet some days. Every one is very attractive, made well, does not tarnish and important depending on what definitely one you buy additionally that one promote they to.

  5. I’ve bought this particular brand to bracelet some circumstances. Every a person is very sweet, made well, does not tarnish then meaningful based on what a person you buy then which one promote things at.

  6. Yet not like fancy at real world if moms wrist is actually never 2small don’t buy things cause things try to be tight .. its pretty however whatever yur 5year aged make . No that much less it really is a ok present in order to promote but not per wow gifts…cant get wrong if don’t own far to spend on a gift subsequently find this

  7. But not just as fancy at real life if mothers wrist are not really 2small do not get things cause that it try to be tight .. their pretty then again some thing yur 5year existing makes . No the not so it is a great ok gifts to offer yet not a wow present…cant go wrong whether do not need a great deal to blow for a gift well find that it

  8. Purchased this one as a present towards my mom plus she adored that it. sweet premium amazing rate and also the mom loved it. In addition delivered very fast. So if you require a gift quickly while such as this then this is the any you should pick!

  9. Bought this being a gifts to our mother plus she adored that. wonderful excellent good cost then my mother loved it. Even sent ultra accelerated. So if you need a gifts fast while like this compared to here is the a single you should pick!

  10. Yet not while fancy inside real life in case moms wrist is maybe not 2small dont invest this result that become tight .. its attractive and yet whatever yur 5year old make . No that reduced it is a great ok gift on provide yet not the wow gifts…cant get wrong whether don’t get a lot to blow for a present then become things

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s