Washington, March 1: Researchers have developed brain implants that allowed rats to communicate by thought alone, even from separate continents.
The researchers implanted microelectrodes 1/100th the width of a hair into the brains of rats.
Placed in separate cages, these rats were able to solve puzzles, they found.
One rat was able to interpret the other’s actions and intentions even when they couldn’t see or hear each other, Fox News reported.
The same experiment worked when the rats were thousands of miles apart with one in Brazil and another in North Carolina.
Until now scientists have been able to interpret a rat’s thoughts and intentions by downloading those brain waves into a computer, but this is the first time another rat has been able to understand the signals directly.
“We basically created a computational unit out of two brains,” said Miguel Nicolelis of Duke’s Medical Center in North Carolina, who led the study.
Nicolelis believes the findings could throw light on therapy for those dealing with brain injuries and paralysis, such as stroke victims.
But getting rats to communicate with each other using only their brains was no easy feat.
In the experiment, the “encoder” rat had to respond to a visual cue and press a lever to receive its reward. While it’s doing this, its brain would send a signal to the “decoder” rat, who then has to interprets this information and also press the right lever to get its prize.
If the decoder rat gets it right, the encoder gets an extra reward, creating a feedback loop that encourage cleaner brain signaling.
It took a month and a half of training before the rats “got it.”
The team is already developing a version of the experiment that would combine the thoughts of more than one animal.
Ultimately, Nicolelis admits in future, we would be able to crowdsource our brainpower.
“You could actually have millions of brains tackling the same problem and sharing a solution,” Nicolelis said. (ANI)