Thursday, 12 March 2015

Telepathic powers

Telepathy has always seemed a topic best suited to science-fiction films, but new research is disproving this and showing this there is a real possibility we could use this technology in the future! Two studies recently published (in the past 2 years) have proved that they have been able to transmit brain activity between two animals (both humans and rats). 

But how does it work? 


This type of transmission between two people is called brain-to-brain interface or BBI and works by making use of the way our brain normally communicates with itself. Within our own brains, this is usually via synapses, which are the gaps between neurons in your brain that substances diffuse across in order to send a signal. In the case of BBIs, a device called an electroencephalogram (EEG) can be used to measure electrical activity in the brain, which is then decoded and transmitted into a computer. 

So, that covers how signals come from one person... But how do they reach the other?

To receive these electrical signals, scientists have made use of a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which I have written previously about here. The technique creates a magnetic field around a person's scalp, which causes an electrical current in the brain. Then if a TMS coil is placed on an area of the brain that controls voluntary movements (the motor cortex), it is possible to stimulate this area and actually create movement in the person without them doing anything.

In the case of telepathic research, scientists have been working to use the EEG to first send the signal of the first person to a computer, which then decodes the information and sends it to the second person via use of TMS.



So far, scientists have been able to send the words 'hola' and 'ciao' between people, and have been able to make one person move their hand as a result of a first person thinking about it!

This research is groundbreaking and completely unprecedented. However, there are some slightly less advantageous implications.. The notion that someone could invade our person conscious thoughts does all sound a bit '1984'! There are ethical implications too, how and why would this technology be used? How would (or even, how could) it be controlled?

If you'd like to read more about this, click here for a link to the BBC's coverage of the story.
What do you think?

3 comments:

  1. It's an interesting idea! I'm not sure how I'd feel about sharing my thoughts though :)
    Jen x

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  2. Sometimes I feel like me and my friends are telepathic…. You can tell what the other person is thinking from just one look!! Is that the same!? Weird!! xx

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  3. I'd love to see how this research develops in the future!

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