Hey, Want to Share a Brain?

As research in the fields of cognitive development and neuroscience continue to improve, things that were once thought as science fiction are getting closer to becoming reality. Already, we are able to control objects with our brains. Light can be used to control others’ brains and implant false memories. The latest story to turn from science fiction to science nonfiction is that of brain linking. Sort of like the mind meld that Spock does in Star Trek, the brain link between two lab rats has been confirmed.

The brain connection possibility is being tackled by a research team at Duke University in North Carolina. Researchers have been able to persuade the body of one rat to follow instructions from the brain of a second rat. This powerful feat has huge implications, but there is still a lot of ground to cover before you will be able to control your friend’s body with your brain. The experiment is fairly simple and involves a master rat and an underling rat. Each rat was given training prior to the experiment.

The training involved learning to follow a certain light that flashed above one of two levers. When the rat successfully pulled the right lever, it was rewarded with some treat. The rats wanted to perform correctly so that they would receive the reward. After each rat showed that it could excel at this exam, the experiment began. The linked brains of the rats showed to produce a stronger signal than the learned lever-pulling. Indeed, when the master rat pulled the lever in his room (the correct lever), the underling rat pulled the same lever, which was not the correct lever for his reward dispensing.

The underling rat had already proven himself to be able to choose the right lever, but the brain of the master rat told the underling’s body to pull the lever that was correct for the master rat, but wrong for the underling rat. While still elementary in nature, this study furthers our ability to use the brain in a creative way.

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