March 4th, 2013 14:01 EST
Researchers Connect Rats Brains Together Electronically
Researchers have successfully connected a pair of rats brains together, enabling the rats to communicate with each other just by thinking.
The brains of the two rats were connected by a wire leading to the part of the rats brain that is associated with motor control.
In order to test whether or not the rats could communicate electronically, they were placed in separate places.
One of the rats was called the "encoder." The encoder rat was trained to press a lever when it received a visual cue. If the rat pressed the correct lever, it got water as a reward.
The other rat was called the "decoder." The decoder rat received no visual cue as to which lever to press for the reward.
The decoder rat, the rat that had no visual cue, pressed the correct lever 70% of the time. The researched estimated that the maximum possible percentage would be 78%. This percentage is based off of previous success rates of sending signals to the rats brain electronically.
The decoder rat also sent information to the encoder rat. If the decoder rat picked the wrong lever, the encoder right changed its way of thinking.
"We saw that when the decoder rat committed an error, the encoder basically changed both its brain function and behavior to make it easier for its partner to get it right," said Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, lead author of the publication. "The encoder improved the signal-to-noise ratio of its brain activity that represented the decision, so the signal became cleaner and easier to detect. And it made a quicker, cleaner decision to choose the correct lever to press. Invariably, when the encoder made those adaptations, the decoder got the right decision more often, so they both got a better reward."
Another variation of the study involved the rats being placed thousands of miles apart and connected electronically the same way.
The researchers suggested that it is possible to connect more than two brains together at a time, forming a network of brains.
More Information: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130228093823.htm
Photo Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danoff/3323774401/sizes/z/in/photostream/
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