WASHINGTON – Rats can read each other’s minds — sort of.
Reuters reports experiments showing a “brain link” between rats could aid problem-solving in the future by connecting multiple brains to tackle something one person’s gray matter can’t handle alone.
The findings also carry ethical implications that have led to speculation typically left to the realm of science fiction.
Duke University researchers in one experiment trained rats to press levers. They then used microelectrodes to directly connect the rats’ brains, and found that one rat would mimic the other and press the correct lever to earn a reward.
Scientists also trained rats to differentiate between narrow and wide openings and translate the message to other rats — even sending brain signals from rats in Brazil over the Internet to rats in the U.S. with successful results.
See an example of the experiments below:
Reuters says some researchers and scientists are not impressed by the experiments, noting such connections have been shown before between brains and machines.
There are also potential ethical implications — the report mentions that people may envision legions of animal soldiers or humans whose brains are controlled by others.
However, the effort’s lead researcher says the findings could lead to an “organic computer” that would help solve difficult problems by harnessing multiple brains. He reportedly now is working on similar research involving monkeys.