Rats thousands of miles apart collaborate on simple tasks with their brains connected through the internet. Sounds like an experiment straight out of a science fiction movie, a Duke neuroscientist has connected the brains of two rats in such a way that when one moves to press a lever, the other one does, too — most of the time.
Researcher and Principle Investigator, Miguel Nicolelis, known for successfully demonstrating brain-machine connections, like the one in which a monkey controlled a robotic arm with its thoughts, highlighted the fact that this was the first time one animal’s brain had been linked to another.The study published in Nature Scientific Reports, where the scientists demonstrated that rats can share, and act on, each other’s sensory information by electrically connecting their brains via tiny grids of electrodes that reach into the motor cortex, the brain region that processes movement.
Other neuroscientist praised and accepted the concept however, some have their concern about limitations in the design and execution of the experiments. Sensory and motor information can be transferred directly between the brains of rats, but some scientists doubt the proclaimed implication of an “organic computer.”
In his recent book Beyond Boundaries, Nicolelis proposes the idea of a brain net – multiple, interconnected brains that work collectively to solve problems. In the future, implants such as these could be used to facilitate the rehabilitation of stroke patients and people who suffer from motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.
Pais-Vieira, M., Lebedev, M., Kunicki, C., Wang, J., & Nicolelis, M. (2013). A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information Scientific Reports, 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep01319