Thinking cap

A team of UC Irvine scientists has been awarded a grant to study synthetic telepathy.

A team of UC Irvine scientists has been awarded a $4m (£2.1m) grant from the US Army Research Office to study synthetic telepathy.

With the funding, researchers will attempt to develop a system to measure the electrical activity produced by the brain as it is recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp, a process known as electroencephalography.

Once captured, the signals would be fed to a computer-based speech-recognition system that would decode the signals. The decoded thoughts, in essence translated brainwaves, would then be transmitted to a target.

The research could lead to a communication system that would benefit soldiers on the battlefield, as well as paralysis and stroke patients, according to lead researcher Michael D’Zmura, chair of the UC Irvine Department of Cognitive Sciences.

‘Such a system would require extensive training for anyone using it,’ said D’Zmura.

Initially, communication would be based on a limited set of words or phrases that are recognised by the system. It would involve more complex language and speech as the technology is developed further.

D’Zmura will collaborate with UC Irvine cognitive science professors Ramesh Srinivasan, Gregory Hickok and Kourosh Saberi. Joining the team are researchers Richard Stern and Vijayakumar Bhagavatula from Carnegie Mellon University and David Poeppel from the University of Maryland.