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Rats Mind-Meld Across Continents, But To What End?

On the surface, it looks like telepathy. Two rats – one in Brazil and another in the USA – are linked in real-time by implants in the same part of their brains, the motor cortex which controls their movements. As one rat presses a lever, its implant records the activity in its motor cortex and converts it into a signal. This is sent to the implant of the second rat, which uses that information to press the same lever.

Although Miguel Nicolelis, the scientist behind the study, tells me that it’s “not the Borg”, he expects that this set-up is the first step towards an organic computer composed of several linked brains. It allows one rat to use the senses of another without even being aware of it.

But. The other scientists I spoke to, who all work in the field of neural implants, were distinctly unimpressed by the study, both with the simplicity of what the mice actually did or the point of the whole exercise. You can read my full report over at Nature News


7 thoughts on “Rats Mind-Meld Across Continents, But To What End?

  1. I think the answer to the question, “What is the point of this experiment?”, is implicitly answered by the word “intercontinental.”

    This is grant fodder, plain and simple. It’s fascinating that they can do this, but as the other scientists said, the experimental design is needlessly convoluted and the results relatively unimpressive. But it’s quite clear that was never the purpose of this experiment: Otherwise, why not just have the rats be in separate rooms? Why do it across continents?

    What they’ve done hear is taken some fascinating research they’ve been doing (and would like to continue doing) and packaged it in an experiment that is guaranteed to grab headlines. (“Intercontinental rat telepathy!”) More power to ’em, really..

  2. This is now the 3rd most shared story on BBC News — I think the experimental approach has been validated 😀

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