- BBC World, @bbc_ciencia
Communicating with the power of the mind alone is something that we humans often fantasize about.
But a group of scientists has managed to prove that we are not that far away.
Someone thought of something in an Indian city and it went directly into the brain of another person who was in a laboratory in Strasbourg, France.
«What is unique about our experiment and it’s the first time it’s been done is that you can actually transmit information from one brain to another without intervention from the sensory system,» Giulio Ruffini, leader of the trial, told the BBC. showing, although still in a rudimentary way, that technology already allows telepathy.
The senses have not been needed, then, but various intermediaries have been needed, including the Internet and the combination of advanced techniques.
«One of them is EEG (electroencephalography), which is used to read brain activity and which you can use to extract simple commands from someone’s thoughts,» Ruffini explained in conversation with the BBC.
«In the case of this experiment we had the sending subject imagining two types of movement, and this can be detected and classified by a computer and sent via the internet to another device that is basically used to pulse a place in the cortex, in the scalp of a person, with a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, which allows the receiving subject to perceive light,» said the researcher.
It should be noted that these techniques are not invasive, that is, they are applied outside the skull.
Thus, the transmitter, connected to the Internet without cables in the town of Thiruvananthapuram, thought up a sequence of binary language, in which the imaginary movement of the hand represented 1 and that of the foot, 0.
When the receiver perceived a flash of light, a 1 was used, when there was no light, a 0.
«The recipient is sitting passively in a chair and a robot configures a device that gently pulses the brain with the correct or incorrect parameters, and this is reported by the subject saying ‘I have seen light or I have not seen light,'» said Ruffini, who is responsible for from the company Starlab, one of the three that participated in the test that brought together scientists from the universities of Barcelona, in Spain, and Harvard, in the US.
What did one brain say to another?
And if you’re wondering what that message said, the answer is simple: «hello.»
The sender in India thought «hello» in binary language: 0 0 1 1 1 – 0 1 1 0 1 – 0 1 0 1 0 – 0 0 0 0 0, those «letters» were read as electrical pulses that were coded to transmitted over the internet and converted back into pulses to produce an electromagnetic discharge on the cerebral cortex of the recipient, sitting in his chair in Strasbourg.
To confirm that the telepathy had actually occurred, the scientists cross-referenced and painstakingly analyzed the statistical information produced by that first peculiar exchange, which took place on March 28.
The results of their work are published in the specialized journal PLOS One, and although its authors define the experiment as a «humble attempt», they believe that it opens up new areas of research in neuroscience.
However, Ruffini says there is still a long way to go before he can imagine a complete telepathic conversation between two people.
«I think the next step is to try to find more powerful techniques to send more complex information, maybe get more salient concepts and experiences than light or non-light, and that will be the next giant step,» said the scientist.
«These kinds of technologies can really make communication between humans and machines extremely deep, richer and faster, and the same between human beings,» Ruffini concluded.