The scientific research that seems to have touched a new milestone in neuroscience and communication system allows rats to turn their thoughts into direct messages while their brains are connected by cables even when they are thousands of miles apart.
The experiment conducted by scientists from Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina establishes the brain-link by patching a wire with array of micro-electrodes into the parts of the rat's brain that is sensitive to sensory and motor signals. The wire is then linked to another rat, thereby allowing the two creatures to share information via those signals.
The system of this communication system detailed in the journal Scientific Reports demonstrates its effectiveness through a simple experiment similar to Ivan Pavlov's "Classical Conditioning" experiment with dogs.
Two rats were kept in separate boxes and one rat was the sender of information called "encoder" while the other was the receiver, called "decoder."
The encoder rat was trained to learn that by pressing one of the two switches in its box when the light above it was illuminated, it would get a sip of water from the bottle. The decoder was not given this information nor did it have the lights fitted to its box.
Interestingly enough, when the two rats were connected with the brain-link wire, scientists found that the decoder rat was able to learn the behavior needed to get the water from the bottle by simply using the information passed from the brain of the encoder rat. Without any assistance or hints, the decoder rat was able to hit the right switch at the right time to get a drink around 70 percent of the time.
The experiment was repeated with one rat placed in North Carolina and another one at the University of Natal in Brazil. The decoder rat, in this instance too, was able to pick the right switch to get the water simply by using information communicated by the encoder rat's brain from thousands of miles away.
The idea, if extended to humans, could benefit the civilization in myriad ways.
"We will have a way to exchange information across millions of people without using keyboards or voice recognition devices or the type of interfaces that we normally use today," Professor Miguel Nicolelis, one of the team members in the study told BBC News.
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