What if you could control someone else’s body with your mind? A recent experiment at the University of Washington seems to indicate that might be a real possibility.
UW researcher Andrea Stocco was the man on the receiving end of the experiment. A fellow researcher, Rajesh Rao, was stationed across campus in a setup meant to determine if Rao could remotely control Stocco’s body with his mind.
Stocco wore a cap with a magnetic coil over the portion of the brain that controls hand movements, and Rao was wearing a cap meant to capture the brain’s signals. Researchers wanted to see if Rao’s brain signals could move Stocco’s hand.
“What I noticed was that my hand moved up and down and pressed the space bar,” Stocco tells KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “It was kind of like when you have a nervous tic and you feel a part of your body, like an eyelid, moving without your control.”
Stocco wasn’t sure, at first, what the movement meant, but said he could tell by the reaction of his fellow researchers it might mean good news for the experiment.
“They were giggling and they were all happy. I knew that the experiment had succeeded.”
The movement in his hand, the experiment concluded, was a result of an impulse sent from Rao’s brain, Stocco said.
“We had several systems to actually check what was triggering my movement was Rao’s brain.”
As for how this might translate to a practical use, Stocco said they can see it being used for training.
“If we can transfer more complex motor commands … a surgeon could help a younger surgeon to guide the hands in the right position in the future, or a pilot could help a younger pilot to pilot a complicated airplane.”