Thursday, February 28, 2013

Science Fiction-dream comes true: direct brain-to-brain communication

A rat in Brazil cooperates via brain signals that are transmitted via the Internet with a rat in the USA. Spooky action on a distance!

Although the rats do not know of each other's existence, they start to cooperate in doing simple visual and tactile tasks. Both rats have a chip implanted in the brain. The brain signal recorded in the brain of the 'encoder' rat are transmitted electronically to the brain of the 'decoder' rat.

This direct brain-to-brain communication is shown by prof. Miguel Nicolelis and his colleagues (Duke University (USA) & Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute for Neuroscience of Natal (Brazil)) in the online journal Nature Scientific Reports (Feb. 28, 2013).

Artist impression of the direct brain-tot-brain-communication between two rats
(Credit: Katie Zhuang, Laboratory of Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, Duke University)

With this experiment, an old Science Fiction-dream has come true: direct brain-to-brain communication. In the science fiction book Donovan's Brain (1942) the millionaire W.H. Donovan gets killed. However, just in time his brain is saved and kept working in a vat. This brain-in-a-vat gets more and more control over the mind of a physician. SF-writer Curt Siodmak lets the brains communicate via telepathy, but professor Miguel Nicolelis has now for the first time succeeded in real, direct brain-to-brain communication.

(Credit: Laboratory of Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, Duke University)

Watch the video to see and hear dr. Miguel Nicolelis describing the experiment.

My news story (in Dutch) about this research has appeared on March 1, in NRC Handelsblad. Hier alvast mijn bijdrage aan de website van NRC.

My private interview with prof. Nicolelis about his ground breaking work will later be published in the Dutch popular science monthly KIJK.

The Lab of Miguel Nicolelis:
The article in in Nature Scientific Reports:
Nature Scientific Reports: