Researchers perform firstever mind meld over the Internet

first_imgYou’ve played two-player video games before, but never one quite like this. Two scientists at the University of Washington teamed up to play a sort of missile defense game — using one’s brain to control the other’s trigger finger.Professor Rajesh Rao sat (mostly) comfortably in a leather recliner. His task: to keep his eyes on the screen in front of him and his arms firmly stuck to the armrests. Whenever a target was within range, Rao had to visualize himself moving his right hand to line up the cursor with a large, blue fire button.Rao was fitted with a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil. It monitored activity in his left motor cortex, the brain’s control center for hand motion. So far, this is pretty tame stuff — not all that different than what OCZ did with its super-cool-but-not-so-successful Neural Impulse Actuator.It’s what happened next in the experiment that’s truly mind-blowing.Rao’s thoughts were then transmitted across the campus via the Internet to fellow researcher Andrea Stocco. Stocco was perched on a less comfortable-looking chair looking a bit like a dental patient in a swim cap. His job: to keep his arm still and relax while his finger involuntarily responded to Rao’s instructions.Lest you think any funny business may have been going on, Stocco had no screen to look at and he had been fitted with noise-cancelling earbuds. Support staff were aware of what was going on thanks to a Skype link between locations, but Stocco had no idea when a target was approaching.It’s worth noting that this isn’t technically “mind control.” The impulse that caused Stocco to move his finger is more like the reaction to a reflex hammer on the knee than an actual though in his head telling his finger to fire.Nevertheless, it’s incredibly cool stuff and could make for some truly interesting multiplayer games down the road. Who wants to think my Mario into throwing a few fireballs? Anyone?last_img read more

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