'Inter-Continental Mind-Meld' Fuses Rats' Brains

'Inter-Continental Mind-Meld' Fuses Rats' Brains

The brains of two rats on different continents have been fused together to create one trans-continental nightmare digital organism, scientists have cheerfully announced.

The 'mind-meld' was created when the two animals were connected together via a central digital nervous system.

The experiment went as follows: one rat in Brazil was made to press one of two levers, indicated by a light.

A machine recorded its brain activity with a small grid of electrodes across the motor cortex. It then simplified it into either a single pulse or a set of pulses, and sent the signals to the brain of a rat in the United States. That rat then made its own choice. If it made the same one, it got a reward.

About 64% of the time, it made the same choices - not every time, but far too often to be accidental. The success rate was higher in similar tests when the distance was smaller, because there was less noise in the signal.

The conclusion was that the choices of one animal could be 'imprinted' in the mind of another.

The Guardian explains that the communication was actually two-way, with the behaviour of one rat seemingly able to adapt to the behaviour of the other.

Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said that the work was "not telepathy" but an interesting step towards organic computers.

"It's not the Borg," he insisted.

The work was published in Scientific Reports, and hints at ways linked animal brains might be used to solve tasks Nature said.

Other scientists remain sceptical, pointing out that the mind-meld - if it did exist - was weak.

Andrew Schwartz, a neurobiologist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, told Nature:

"Although this may sound like 'mental telemetry', it was a very simple demonstration of binary detection and binary decision-making."


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