Researchers implanted micro-electrodes to the rat’s brain and connected it to the brain of a human volunteer who was hooked up to a computer.
Unbelievably, when the human ‘manipulator’ thought about moving their left arm, the rat turned left.
The same with the right arm.
Blinking sent signals to the rat to move forward and after continuous research with six ‘cyborg rats’ the scientists were able to direct the rodents through incredibly complex mazes.
Movement-related thoughts in the mind of the manipulator sent signals to the computer, which then translated those signals into instructions and sent them to the brain of the rat.
The team at Zhejiang University first started with just a few tubes and then moved on to something to intricate designs with tight turns and multiple levels.
Discover Magazine wrote: “The results showed that rat cyborgs could be smoothly and successfully navigated by the human mind to complete a navigation task in a complex maze,”
“Our experiments indicated that the cooperation through transmitting multidimensional information between two brains by computer-assisted brain-machine interfaces is promising.”
Brain Machine Interfaces (BMI) already allow humans to control things with their minds, but this is the first time an animal has been controlled – creating a brain-to-brain interface.
In the future, the Zheijang researchers hope that “information flow will be made bidirectional and communicative between two human individuals.”
Andrea Stocco, a brain researcher at the University of Washington said that the results of the rat cyborg study were “impressive but believable”.
“The holy grail of BBI would be sharing rich content that cannot be better expressed in words, such as emotions and feelings,” he told the magazine.
“We are still so far from that, but, of course, that would be the dream.”