A recent experiment conducted by neurological researchers has shown that a device that could enable mind reading is possible.

The experiment, of which utilized a series of games akin to 20 Questions, was conducted with the respondents and in inquirers isolated in separate labs one mile apart. An object was chosen and shown to the respondent, but not to the inquirer. The inquirer was them given a series of questions that could be answered using yes or no answers, on a computer screen to be sent to the respondent, to gain clues as to what the object was. The question was shown briefly on the respondent’s computer screen, of whom would look at one of two LED lights, that would each flash at a frequency that the respondent’s brainwave would match: 12Hz for yes, and 13Hz for no.

An EEG would then read the respondent’s brainwaves and transmit them to a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (TMS) device placed behind the inquirer’s head, to stimulate a flash in their visual cortex, with a flash indicating a positive answer, and no response indicating a negative. The results of the study showed that the guesses were successful 72% of the time, as opposed to only 18% with the control group.

“We are actually still at the beginning of the field of interface technology and we are just mapping out the landscape so every single step is a step that opens up some new possibilities,” said lead author Andrea Stocco, assistant professor of psychology at UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

Applications for this type of brain-to-brain transmission could be to convey abstract concepts that can’t be communicated through verbal or written means, such as emotions, and hopefully to allow quadriplegic patients to communicate more effectively.

Over time, the landscape of the brain’s activity is going to be mapped in depth and in detail. Beyond that, devices that amplify EEG signals and enable them to be transmitted over distance will be developed. Such transmitters could conceivably be miniaturized to the point that they are implantable into the brain, or even injectable into the bloodstream where they will lodge close enough to the brain to function. The brain of a person so implanted would then transmit its emotional life and thought processes in exquisite detail.

The image depicts a transcranial magnetic stimulation device.