We are all aware of what telepathy is in one form or another. From a young age, most of us have had exposure to such an interesting concept through movies, tv shows and even books. As the leaves of our days keep falling and we grow older, more mature and ever prone to scientific and logical reasoning, we tend to shun such an idea as a mere parlour trick. Most of us might not pause to give this a thought. There are some scientists out there willing to stretch the bounds of their knowledge and the use of modern technology to give us the taste of the answers to some of the more “peripheral” concepts. Such was the experiment that demonstrated the validity of long-distance telepathy.
The experiment was carried out by neuroscientists, between humans separated by 5,000 miles (between India and France). Researchers at the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School wanted to find out if communication between two people is possible by reading out the brain activity of one person and injecting it into another via the internet. An obvious query was whether the process of “talking” and “typing” to relay the messages could be bypassed. Alvaro Pascual-Leone (BIDMC) and his colleagues were successful at transmitting the words “hola” and “ciao” from a location in India to another location in France, using internet-linked electroencephalogram (EEG) and robot-assisted and image-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technologies.
In the actual experiment, four healthy subjects, aged 28 to 50, were involved. One of them, in India, was linked to the brain-computer interface who served as the sender of the words. His words were first converted to binary code and, subsequently, emailed to the location in France where the computer-brain interface transmitted the message to the receivers’ brains through non-invasive brain stimulation. The subjects received this as “phosphenes”- flashes of light which appear in our peripheral vision without the eye being stimulated externally. The message appeared as numerical sequences which the receivers could decode.
The results of the experiment might not sound like actual telepathy- the message needs to be decoded which is contrary to what we know already. But, nonetheless, this is an amazing demonstration of what could be achieved in the years to come. I am not going to talk about the philosophical and social ramifications of such a possibility. To me, it is a remarkable stride in the field of neuroscience that could lead to the advent of brain-to-brain communication.