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Scientists send messages between two brains

Scientists successfully sent greetings directly from one brain to another -- is "X-Men" style telepathy far behind?

By
Ben Hooper
Scientists are closer to simulating telepathy like that of Professor X, portrayed by Patrick Stewart in the X-Men films. UPI /Laura Cavanaugh
Scientists are closer to simulating telepathy like that of Professor X, portrayed by Patrick Stewart in the X-Men films. UPI /Laura Cavanaugh | License Photo

BOSTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A Harvard scientist and his colleagues have simulated telepathy by transmitting thoughts directly from one brain to another via the Internet.

Alvaro Pascual-Leone, director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, said he and co-authors Giulio Ruffini and Carles Grau used electroencephalogram, or EEG, and transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, technologies to transmit greetings directly from the brain of a person in India to the brains of subjects in France via the Internet.

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"We wanted to find out if one could communicate directly between two people by reading out the brain activity from one person and injecting brain activity into the second person, and do so across great physical distances by leveraging existing communication pathways," Pascual-Leone said.

"One such pathway is, of course, the internet, so our question became, 'Could we develop an experiment that would bypass the talking or typing part of Internet and establish direct brain-to-brain communication between subjects located far away from each other in India and France?'"

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The authors of the study, published in journal PLOS ONE, said messages were then successfully transmitted between the brains of subjects in Spain and France.

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The first human-to-human brain interface was reported last year by researchers at the University of Washington. In the experiment, one subject was able to cause the finger of a second subject to move in another lab. In February 2013, the world's first brain-to-brain connection was demonstrated in two rats at Duke University.

Pascual-Leone suggested the experiment may open the door to bringing telepathic communication out of science fiction and into the real world.

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"This in itself is a remarkable step in human communication, but being able to do so across a distance of thousands of miles is a critically important proof-of-principle for the development of brain-to-brain communications. We believe these experiments represent an important first step in exploring the feasibility of complementing or bypassing traditional language-based or motor-based communication."

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