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Mind Games: Brain-to-Brain Communication Takes Another Step Forward

University of Washington researchers have reported another advance in research on connecting two brains via an electronic interface, a year after they showed it was possible. The original study, performed by Andrea Stocco and Rajesh Rao on themselves in August 2013, stimulated a part of one's brain when a certain thought pattern was detected in the other's. The result: one person thought about moving a finger, and several blocks away, the other's finger moved. But testing on oneself isn't exactly a foolproof methodology, so over the last year Stocco and Rao repeated the experiment with three other pairs of subjects.

It worked, but accuracy was far from perfect, largely because of participants' difficulty in forming the correct thought pattern to send the finger movement signal to their partners. Having shown that the system at least works somewhat on other people, the researchers plan to expand into other types of thoughts: visual signals, sounds or more complex movements. The study appeared Wednesday in the journal PLoS One, and the team has received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck foundation to further explore the field.

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