March 1, 2013

Brain-to-brain communication in rats

You may have seen the glossy (i.e., dumbed-down mass media) stories about this in the news today. But physorg has the real dirt. It's amazing.
"We cannot predict what kinds of emergent properties would appear when animals begin interacting as part of a brain-net. In theory, you could imagine that a combination of brains could provide solutions that individual brains cannot achieve by themselves," continued Nicolelis. Such a connection might even mean that one animal would incorporate another's sense of "self," he said. 

"In fact, our studies of the sensory cortex of the decoder rats in these experiments showed that the decoder's brain began to represent in its tactile cortex not only its own whiskers, but the encoder rat's whiskers, too. We detected cortical neurons that responded to both sets of whiskers, which means that the rat created a second representation of a second body on top of its own." Basic studies of such adaptations could lead to a new field that Nicolelis calls the "neurophysiology of social interaction."
Weird and wonderful. They talk about hooking up swarms of animal brains to create a network -- but never once mention doing this with humans. Fun times lie ahead!

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