Scientists connect rat brains to create 'super brain'

Scientists have directly linked the brains of multiple animals and observed them cooperating on a common task for the first time, creating a "super brain". The study could pave the way for telepathic communication between humans as it shows that brains can be directly connected to share information.

Miguel Nicolelis, Professor in Neuroscience at Duke University, North Carolina, published a study in Scientific Reports last week, investigating the effect of networking multiple rat brains on processing basic motor and memory tasks.

The experiment, performed by Nicolelis and his team at Duke, shows that the collective brainpower of multiple rats can lead to them completing tasks at a rate equal to or higher than that of an individual brain.

Nicolelis' study involved implanting two multi-electrode arrays in the sensory sections of the rats' brains, one in each hemisphere, through which to deliver and receive electronic stimulation and data. The nodes connect the rat brains to one another and each brain to a computer, through which the animals would perform their tests.

These Brain-to-Brain Interfaces (BtBIs) or Brainets, link multiple animal brains in order that they can share, receive and produce neurological signals to collectively perform motor tasks including: pattern recognition, image processing, as well as memory storage and retrieval.

The implication is that such Brainets' could be created for humans, providing the means for communicating thoughts and solving problems collectively by the power of the brain alone, removing the need for verbal or written communication.

"I could send thoughts from my brain to your brain in a way not represented by sounds or words," Andrew Jackson at Newcastle University, UK told New Scientist. "You could envisage a world where if I wanted to say 'Let's go to the pub', I could send that thought to your brain," he said. "Although I don't know if anyone would want that. I would rather link my brain to Wikipedia."

The results of the data gathered from the rats showed increased brain synchronization over the course of 12 sessions over a week and a half week. The four-brain rat Brainet had a neurological and natural synchronization output identical to that observed from a single rat brain.

The study concluded that the networked brains, through sharing the burden of problem solving and attacking the challenge from different perspectives and approaches, were equally if not more efficient than a single brain in executing the same task. This processes is analogous to the increasing the number of web servers to spread out the workload and increase the efficiency of a computer system through collective input.

A previous study conducted on three monkeys involved the connection of each monkey to a computer not to one another. Although the results also showed the collective brain processing was more powerful than a single brain, the rat study was showed the more brains involved, the more likely the success of collective problem solving.

On 30 June Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg spoke about the future of telepathic communication on the social media platform during an online townhall Q&A, "One day, I believe we'll be able to send full, rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You'll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you'd like."