A scientist links the brains of three lab rats and has them work together, using only electric pulses produced by their brain waves, to predict the weather.
It may sound like science fiction, but a neuroscience lab at Duke University claims to have done just that. The work is described in a pair of papers published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.
Miguel Nicolelis and colleagues are experimenting with the possibility of brain-to-brain communication by establishing “brainets,” or networks of living animal brains.
In one of the new studies, researches delivered stimuli representing weather data on temperature and barometric pressure to the brains of up to four rats. Using the brainets, the rats were able to combine the information to successfully predict the possibility of rain.
Nicolelis and his colleagues employed a technique called intracortical microstimulation after implanting hundreds of microfilaments in the brain of each rat. Each filament sensed the electrical activity of nearby neurons and transmitted that activity – in the form of a mild current – to the filaments implanted in another rat’s brain, which in turn stimulated its neurons.
That stimulation created a sensation that the rats were trained to interpret as a signal to perform a particular behavior, such as ...