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Rats Prove Brain-to-Brain Communication is Possible

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What would you think of brain-to-brain interface? Sounds like something from the future, right? Well, scientists may well be on their way to making brain-to-brain communication a reality–at least with rats. What's even more amazing is that some of the rats' brains were connected from miles away.

The study, conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center, tested whether rats could communicate brain-to-brain using implants that allow them to receive sensory and motor messages from one another. One rat served as the encoder (the one sending the message) and one as the decoder (the one receiving the message); the study results showed that the decoder rat was able to correctly interpret the information that the encoder rat sent. Until recently, scientists had only connected the brain implant in an animal to a computer so that the computer could tell them what the animal was going to do next. So they decided to go one more step and see if they could achieve similar results brain-to-brain and were succesful.

Before you start joking about rats sending each other signals about cheese, it's a little more complicated than that. The researchers trained a pair of rats to solve a simple problem of pressing a lever to get water out of a dispenser. When the rats pressed the correct lever, an indicator light would come on indicating that they could take a sip of water. The researchers then placed the rats in separate chambers and connected their brains using microelectrodes. One rat was the encoder, and that rat would still receive the light signal allowing it to drink water while the other rat, the decoder could press the lever but would not receive the light signal. Rather, the decoder rat had to rely on the encoder rat's brain signal that it had received the light. One additional experiment also proved that the experiment works long distance when researchers connected a rat at Duke with a rat in Brazil. The researchers say that they expect that in a few decades, humans will be able to communicate this way, too.