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BrainNet interface makes three-way brain-to-brain communication possible

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Brain-to-brain communication

Researchers from the UW and Carnegie Mellon University have developed an interface to connect the brains of three people. Users can work together through brain-to-brain communication to play a Tetris-like game.

The interface, dubbed BrainNet, enabled three subjects to collaboratively decide without speaking whether falling pieces should be rotated. Two “senders” wore electroencephalograms (EEGs), which record the electrical impulses of brain activity. The senders, who were able to see the game screen, were asked to decide if a falling piece should be rotated and stare at one of two LED lights flashing at different frequencies. Based on the frequency, a signal was produced in the brain and recorded by the EEGs.

A single “receiver,” who could only see the top half of the game screen, wore a transcranial magnetic stimulation cap, which uses a magnetic field to stimulate neurons. Based on the light the sender chose, phantom flashes were generated in the receiver’s brain. This gave them the information to choose if the falling piece should be rotated.

Researchers tested BrainNet with five different three-person groups. On average, the groups managed to communicate with 81.25 percent accuracy.

While the communication process is still slow and the work has not yet been peer-reviewed by the neuroscience community, BrainNet hints at the potential for more collaborative problem-solving through brain-to-brain communication in the future with similar technology.

 

Reach reporter Gabriela Tedeschi at science@dailyuw.com. Twitter: GC_Tedeschi

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