How individuals and their companions can play a video game together using just their minds
Telepathic communication may be one step nearer to reality thanks to new research from the University of Washington. A group made a technique that enables three individuals to cooperate to solve an issue utilizing just their minds.
In BrainNet, three individuals play a Tetris-like game utilizing a brain-to-brain interface. This is the first demonstration of two things: a brain-to-brain network of multiple individuals, and an individual having the option to both receive and send data to others utilizing just their brain. The group published its outcomes April 16 in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, however this research previously attracted media attention after the specialists posted it September on the preprint site arXiv.
“Humans are social beings who communicate with each other to cooperate and solve problems that none of us can solve on our own,” said corresponding author Rajesh Rao, the CJ and Elizabeth Hwang professor in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and a co-director of the Center for Neurotechnology. “We wanted to know if a group of people could collaborate using only their brains. That’s how we came up with the idea of BrainNet: where two people help a third person solve a task.”
As in Tetris, the game demonstrates a block at the top of the screen and a line that should be finished at the bottom. Two individuals, the Senders, can see both the block and the line yet can’t control the game. The third individual, the Receiver, can see just the block yet can advise the game whether to rotate the block to successfully finish the line. Every Sender chooses whether the block should be rotated and afterward passes that data from their brain, through the internet and to the brain of the Receiver. At that point the Receiver processes that data and sends a command – to rotate or not rotate the block – to the game directly from their brain, ideally finishing and clearing the line.
The group asked five groups from members to play 16 rounds of the game. For each group, every one of the three members were in various rooms and couldn’t see, hear or speak to one another.
The Senders each could see the game showed on a PC screen. The screen additionally demonstrated “Yes” on one side and “No” on the opposite side. Underneath the “Yes” option, a LED flashed 17 times per second. Underneath the “No” option, a LED flashed 15 times a second.
“Once the Sender makes a decision about whether to rotate the block, they send ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the Receiver’s brain by concentrating on the corresponding light,” said first author Linxing Preston Jiang, a student in the Allen School’s combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program.
The Senders wore electroencephalography caps that grabbed electrical activity in their cerebrums. The lights’ different flashing patterns trigger extraordinary sorts of activity in the brain, which the caps can get. Along these lines, as the Senders gazed at the light for their corresponding selection, the cap got those signals, and the PC gave real-time feedback by showing a cursor on the screen that moved toward their desired choice. The selections were then translated into a “Yes” or “No” answer that could be sent over the internet to the Receiver.
“To deliver the message to the Receiver, we used a cable that ends with a wand that looks like a tiny racket behind the Receiver’s head. This coil stimulates the part of the brain that translates signals from the eyes,” said co-author Andrea Stocco, a UW assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, or I-LABS. “We essentially ‘trick’ the neurons in the back of the brain to spread around the message that they have received signals from the eyes. Then participants have the sensation that bright arcs or objects suddenly appear in front of their eyes.”
On the off chance that the answer was, “Yes, rotate the block,” at that point the Receiver would see the bright flash. In the event that the answer was “No,” at that point the Receiver wouldn’t see anything. The Receiver got input from both Senders before making a decision about whether to rotate the block. Since the Receiver additionally wore an electroencephalography cap, they utilized a similar technique as the Senders to choose yes or no.
The Senders got an opportunity to review the Receiver’s decision and send corrections in the event that they disagreed. At that point, when the Receiver sent a second decision, everybody in the group saw whether they cleared the line. On average, each group effectively cleared the line 81% of the time, or for 13 out of 16 preliminaries.
The scientists wanted to know whether the Receiver would learn after some time to believe one Sender over the other dependent on their dependability. The group deliberately picked one of the Senders to be a “bad Sender” and flipped their reactions in 10 out of the 16 preliminaries – so that a “Yes, rotate the block” suggestion would be given to the Receiver as “No, don’t rotate the block,” and vice versa. After some time, the Receiver changed from being moderately neutral about both Senders to strongly preferring the information from the “good Sender.”
The group trusts that these outcomes make ready for future brain-to-brain interfaces that enable individuals to work together to solve intense issues that one cerebrum alone couldn’t solve. The scientists likewise believe this is a proper time to begin to have a bigger discussion about the ethics of this sort of cerebrum growth research and creating protocols to guarantee that individuals’ privacy is regarded as the technology improves. The group is working with the Neuroethics group at the Center for Neurotechnology to address these sorts of issues.
“But for now, this is just a baby step. Our equipment is still expensive and very bulky and the task is a game,” Rao said. “We’re in the ‘Kitty Hawk’ days of brain interface technologies: We’re just getting off the ground.”