Researchers at the University of Washington are conducting some interesting experiments to answer the question of whether we can read each others’ minds. Unlike the psychic who is either in the room with you or on the telephone/Skype, these “mind readers” were hooked up to computers. Thoughts were transmitted and read with the assistance of a large magnet, which sent brain signals and an EEG (electroencephalographs) that read them. The experiments are still very primitive, with subjects only transmitting very basic responses to each other, but 72% of the time, the responses were correct. This is enough to give researchers cause to continue.
An Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University says that these are the most intensive brain-to-brain experiments ever conducted in humans, and researchers are very excited about the prospects for further developing mind reading technologies across the human spectrum.
Participant pairs were separated by miles in different laboratories, and their only connection was over the internet. The questioner had a transcranial magnetic stimulation device (TMS) affixed to the back of his head. They would then proceed to play something like the game ’20 questions’, using questions that were set in advance, where the questioner would select a category and had on his or her screen a list of possible answers. The questioner would ask of an item, for instance, ‘Is it food?’, and the respondent would answer by looking at a pair of flashing lights on the computer screen — one for ‘yes’ and one for ‘no’. When looking at the ‘yes’ light on the computer screen, a stronger TMS pulse would be created, which would be received by the brain of the questioner as a pulse or phosphine beam of light. The ‘no’ light created a weaker TMS pulse. The questioner would need to see this phosphine to know what had been answered, and would then continue to narrow down the identification of a particular subject item.
In the future researchers want to see if they can transmit more complex data, such as images or a brain’s current state of activity — for example, awake or resting.
So where is all this going? It is said that the only secret is the one you keep to yourself. But, can you even keep that secret? If science finds a way to read minds, there may be no secrets left to keep to yourself in the future. Imagine that!