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When you imagine telepathy, your mind probably jumps immediately to science fiction: the Vulcans of Star Trek, Legilimency in Harry Potter, or the huge variety of superheroes and super-villains who possess powers of telekinesis or mind control. Twenty years ago, these concepts would have been mere fictional speculation, but today, in neuroscience labs around the world, new research is turning the startling possibility of brain-to-brain communication into reality.

Imagine this: a man wearing a strange polka-dot cap sits in front of a computer screen, watching an animated rocket fly from a pirate ship toward a city. In the game, the only defense against the rocket is a cannon, which can be fired by pressing a key on a keyboard in an adjacent room. As the man watches the rocket make its first flight from the ship, he thinks about moving his finger, without actually moving anything at all.

In the adjacent room, another capped man — his cap connected to the first man’s through wires, a computer, and the internet — sits with his hand relaxed over the keyboard, unable to see the first man and oblivious to the impending doom of his animated city. Suddenly, his brain receives a jolt of electrical stimulation, and his finger involuntarily jerks down on the key, bringing down the rocket. Together, these two men have successfully saved the city, and more importantly, they have achieved the once unthinkable task of direct brain-to-brain communication (1).

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