Scientists Link Brains of Two Rats

Signals from one affect the other, say researchers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2013 4:25 PM CST
Scientists Link Brains of Two Rats

It is, in the words of Wired, a "rodent mind meld." A Duke neuroscientist planted electrodes in the brains of two rats and discovered that signals from one could control the actions of the other, reports the New York Times. In one experiment, the rats were trained to press a specific lever upon seeing a red light in order to get a drink of water as reward. The first rat saw the light and pressed the correct lever. The second rat wasn't shown the light but pressed the correct lever anyway, most of the time, after receiving the signals from the first rat's brain.

What's more, the rats got their reward only if both rodents responded correctly. Researchers say the first rat apparently figured this out and started sending clearer signals to his pal, which boosted the success rate even more. Ultimately, Duke's Miguel Nicolelis hopes his work leads to an exoskeleton that can be controlled by a paralyzed person. On this particular experiment, however, Reuters quotes an anonymous neuroscientist a little leery about the precedent, fearful of a slippery slope worthy of a sci-fi blockbuster. He sees the possibility of "battalions of animal soldiers—or even human soldiers—whose brains are remotely controlled by others." (Read more rats stories.)

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