Scientists have used brain-to brain interfaces, essentially a biological network, with monkeys and rats to successfully transmit thought.
Two studies published in the journal Scientific Reports this week describe work to develop ways for groups of brains to work together to communicate by thought.
Brain-to-brain interfaces are networks formed by multiple brains which cooperate, allowing the animals to exchange sensory and motor information in real-time.
In the first study, the authors were able to harness the brain power of four monkeys to move a robotic arm.
In the second, the researchers investigated the ability of an interface connected to four rats to solve problems.
Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University and colleagues recorded the activity of hundreds of neurons in the motor and sensory brain regions of four rhesus monkeys.
Groups of two or three monkeys then sat in separate rooms with a computer screen which displayed an avatar arm.
Their task was to move the arm towards a target using either a joystick or by passively observing the movement of the arm, which was generated from the recordings of each monkey’s brain activity.
The monkeys kept getting better at thought control with training.
In the other study, the researchers built a brain-to-brain interface called a Brainet with four rats and tried to get them to solve puzzles.
The rats had multielectrode arrays implanted to record neural electrical activity and transmit to the brains of the other animals in the Brainet.
Over different tasks, the Brainet performance of the group was equal to or better than an individual rat.
When the tasks required multiple computations, the Brainet performance was significantly better compared to individual rats.
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