As time goes on, science fiction becomes less like fantasy and more like reality. One of the most startling aspects of science has been the study of brain-to-brain communication, for instance. Linking minds, it seems, is very real. Through testing with animals and humans, results have shown that it is easier than we think to live in another’s mind.
The process is called BBI (Brain-to-Brain Interface) and science has conducted studies with animal-to-animal, human-to-human and even human-to-animal interfaces!
The Technical Brain
How does this work, you might ask?
The brain not only has the ability to send signals, it can also act as a receiver as well. Electrical impulses are delivered via TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), which is a technique used to create a magnetic field over the scalp. This magnetic field causes an electric current in the brain, and when placed over the cerebral motor cortex, pathways are awakened. This is how arms and legs have the ability to move!
Scientists believe that if these pathways can be activated to create movement, then artificial pathways can be created to communicate between two life forms. This is not so far-fetched, as seen from a demonstration from 2013, with laboratory rats.
A pair of rats, which were connected through BBI, were given rewards when performing certain tasks. An upgrade of this study shows human subjects controlling movement of animals – when a rat’s tail was moved by human thought alone.
Human-to-human transmission proved to be even more conclusive. By BBI, one subject moved the hand of another individual playing a video game, using only the thought channels believed to be responsible for this phenomenon. Wow!
Brain cells communicate and this is how transmission works. This process is called Synaptic Transmission. In Synaptic Transmission, cells send signals which are recognized as electrical surges. Not only electronics have power surges, huh?
This transmission process controls many functions of the brain, such as: motor function, memory and perception. Since these impulses or spikes in energy are located within a network, they are collectively called “Brain Waves”.
Characteristics of Brainwaves
Brainwaves vary according to what they are doing, their cognitive processes. When you are sleeping, the oscillations, or the ups and downs, of the brain waves are different from when you are awake.
An EEG is used in order to see and better understand these waves. By wearing a “swimmer’s cap” style device, equipped with electrodes, scientists can get a first-hand look at how brain waves function. All activity is then recorded onto a computer for further study. EEG machines have contributed too many outstanding scientific findings, including the basis of neural prostheses technology, which is used to restore damaged brain functioning.
The latest achievement made using the brain-to-brain interface technology was last August. Test subjects were asked to try and transmit a message from one country to another using an EEG machine, the internet and TMS. One subject was in India, the other was located in France. The simple message, which read “Hello”, basically, was received clearly and translated into the computer system.
The original signal was sent by words which were transmitted into binary notation. Then the EEG signal was transferred into 1 or 0, and then passed into the TMS robot. Flashing lights, from the robot were decoded into the salutation.
There are, of course, ethical and moral questions about these studies. Obviously, one of the most important rules of the tests would be that the subjects of the studies have to be completely aware of their testing.
With the BBI studies becoming more common and producing successful results, they have potential to advance communication between life forms. These studies can also be integrated into the area of psychological research with emphasis on psychotherapy. These advancements can also prove to be beneficial in robotics and colonization of other planets, who knows! It seems that Science Fiction may no longer be fiction at all. Our reality is looking more and more like fantasy, and that is okay by us!