While the interface designed by Rao and Stocco seems to work for simple motor commands, they have yet to find out how it might handle more complex information transfers. However, they plan to continue their work so that one day they may ultimately be able to “decode and transfer more complex information, such as real ‘thoughts,’ like solutions for algebraic problems,” Stocco said.
Potential applications for the brain-to-brain interface include “everything that is difficult to communicate though language that could be better communicated brain-to-brain, such as complex motor procedures -- think, for instance, of the movements a skilled surgeon knows how to do -- or even complex concepts, such as algebraic skills,” Stocco said.
If researchers can successfully transfer thoughts brain-to-brain, the technology could be applied much more widely, he added.
The National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Sensormotor Neural Engineering at UW, the US Army Research Office, and the National Institutes of Health all provided funding for Rao and Stocco’s research.