In a world first, Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have given rats the Ability to communicate telepathically, brain to brain, using small wireless implants.Miguel Nicolelis's team has, for the first time, demonstrated a direct interface between two brains, finding the rats were able to share both motor and sensory information.
When one rat was shown the LED indicating they should pull the lever, the other rat which was isolated from it correctly pulled the lever 75% of the time.
With successive trials, the rats actually became better at understanding each other, sending clearer signals using the telepathic link. "The encoder's brain activity became more precise. This could have happened because the animal enhanced its attention during the performance of the next trial after a decoder error." said Miguel.
In the second experiment, the implant was moved to the rats' primary somatosensory cortex, where touch sensations are processed. The rats were to enter a tunnel and determine whether the tunnel was narrow or wide by feeling it with their whiskers in order to earn a reward.
Over 60% of the time, the receiving rat was able to correctly identify the width of the tunnel being explored only by the transmitting rat.
Finally, transmitting rats were held still while their whiskers were stroked. The researchers observed patterns of activity in the somatosensory cortex of the decoder rats that matched that of the encoder rats, even though the whiskers of the decoder rats had not been touched.
In a repeat of the experiment, the same experiments were carried out on rats on separate continents, with one in Brazil and one in North Carolina (thousands of miles apart), coming to the same conclusion.
Very fascinating work!
Just consider the possibilities of such a system where you have many individual electrodes on each brain. This study used a single signal, but in theory the same technique could be used with higher numbers of contacts - modern Brain-machine interface electrode arrays in humans can tap into as many as 10,000 neurons at once - to allow more information, and more precise information to be shared between brains in the future. It very well might not be too long before Ghost in the Shell style Telepathy is possible in people.
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