Posted in: Discoveries

Scientists Connect Rats’ Brains So They Can Communicate Via The Internet

lab rats

Brains of rats were connected by scientists to allow the rodents to share information via the internet. The little creatures were able to collaborate from thousands of miles away from one another via an online interface.

The brain-to-brain interface among rats required “grids of electrodes” to be implanted in their motor cortex, the BBC notes. The motor cortex is the portion of the brain that processes movement. After the implantation into the rats, the rodents could share and act upon sensory information from each other.

The rat brain experiment is being touted as a major step towards the creation of the world’s first “organic computer.” The team of American scientists fitted devices on two rats and used them to work together to accomplish simple tasks to earn a treat. One of the rewards for the rats was reportedly a drink of water.

During one of the scientific experiments on the rats, the researchers used the internet to “linked the brains” of two rats to the internet. The rats were located on different continents. One rat was inside a laboratory at Duke University in North Carolina and the other in Brazil.

The project was headed by Miguel Nicolelis, the New York Times notes. The scientist was also a leader in the creation of robotic arms that allowed paralyzed individuals to control computers with only their thoughts.

Nicolelis had this to say about the rat brain-to-brain experiment:

“These experiments showed that we have established a sophisticated, direct communication linkage between brains. Basically, we are creating what I call an organic computer.”

The rats learned how to press a lever with a light indicator attached. To thoroughly test their theory of sensory sharing, one rat was placed in a compartment with light above the lever and the other rodent was not. When the rate pressed the lever after the light came on, its brain activity was sent to the other rat. The second rat reportedly interpreted the brain signals correctly 70 of the time.

Scientists also used the rats to collaborate on a task where they were mandated to negotiate between wide and narrow openings using their whiskers as a guide. The researchers are currently working on a plan to connect the brains of multiple animals at once to collaborate on more difficult tasks.

Do you find the brain-to-brain experiments exciting or a bit scary in their potential?

[Image Via: Shutterstock.com]

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