It’s not exactly a Vulcan mind meld, but it’s not far off. Scientists have wired the brains of two rats together and shown that signals from one rat’s brain can help the second rat solve a problem it would otherwise have no clue how to solve.
The rats were in different cages with no way to communicate other than through the electrodes implanted in their brains. The transfer of information from brain to brain even worked with two rats separated by thousands of kilometers, one in a lab in North Carolina and another in a lab in Brazil.
“We basically created a computational unit out of two brains,” says neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University, who led the study.
Nicolelis is a leading figure in brain-machine interface research and the man behind a bold plan to develop a brain-controlled exoskeleton that would allow a paralyzed person to walk onto the field and kick a soccer ball at the opening ceremony of next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
He says the new findings could point the way to future therapies aimed at restoring movement or language after a stroke or other brain injury by using signals from a healthy part of the brian to retrain the injured area. Other researchers say it’s an interesting idea, but it’s a long way off.
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