Neuroscientists Link the Brains of 3 People, And The Three Play Tetris Together

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You’ve probably thought we were joking. Even though it sounds weird, the experiment was conducted, and it was successful. Neuroscientists were able to connect three brains and allow the test subjects share thoughts while playing a Tetris game. The next step the team suggests is to connect a bigger network of people.

The connection used electroencephalograms (EEGs) to record electrical impulses that show brain activity, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which stimulated the neurons through magnetic fields.

The System is Called BrainNet

The researchers that developed the system believe they can replicate the connection and use it even across the web to connect a lot more minds together. That would be a strange way of communication, but also a new way to learn more about the human brain, write the researchers in their report:

“We present BrainNet which, to our knowledge, is the first multi-person non-invasive direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving. The interface allows three human subjects to collaborate and solve a task using direct brain-to-brain communication.”

They used a game of Tetris and made two “senders” to decide whether the block needed to be rotated or not. The subjects had to stare at one of the two LEDs at either side of the screen – one was working at 15 Hz and the other at 17, making the brain signals appear differently on the EEG.

The choices from the two senders were sent to a “receiver” through a TMS cap which generated phantom flashes of light in that person’s mind – they’re called phosphenes. The receiver didn’t see the game but rotated the falling block if he received the light flash signal.

There were five groups of people, and researchers got an average result of 81.25 accuracy, which was decent for the first tests.

The system can only send a flash of data at a time, but the researchers at the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University believe they can expand it, concluding that:

“Our results raise the possibility of future brain-to-brain interfaces that enable cooperative problem solving by humans using a ‘social network’ of connected brains.”

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Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.


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