Two rat brains have been linked at a distance such that information learnt by one can then be used by the other to gain a reward. Created at Duke University, it’s the first example of a brain-to-brain interface. In many ways this is an exciting development but I also worry about the dystopian possibilities of such technology.
One of the rats learns to perform a two-choice task. The sensorimotor cortical activity associated with the task is then sampled and transmitted to the comparable cortical areas of a second rat, which then makes similar choices to the first rat. The two are collaborating on a task to receive rewards despite not knowing that they are doing so.
Such a linkage is said by the researchers to constitute a ‘biological computer’. They believe that this will have applications in brain-machine interfaces for rehabilitation purposes. In the very distant future they even hope to create a brain net, with people communicating information and competences to each other just by thinking.