Harvard Brain-To-Brain Interface: Human Controls Rat Using Power Of Thought [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on August 1, 2013 4:36 PM EDT

rat
Using a brain-to-brain interface, Harvard researchers have created a link in which a human's thoughts can control the movements of a rat. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers at Harvard University have created a link between the brains of a human and a rat that allows the human to control the rat's tail, according to a study published in PLoS ONE.

The human-rat brain-to-brain interface was accomplished by hooking up a human to an EEG reader, a device that measures the brain's electrical signals, in conjunction with a brain-computer interface (BCI), which translated human thought through a computer and sent the signal to another brain.

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On the rat's end, the brain was hooked up to a computer-brain interface (CBI), which interpreted the signals sent from the human brain and then, via a focused ultrasound, stimulated the neurons of the rat brain, causing it to move its tail.

When the human looked at a specific pattern on a computer screen, that translated to the rat as "move my tail."

In the brain-to-brain interface study, the researchers, led by neuroscientist Seung-Schik Yoo, used six human subjects and six rat subjects, with a success rate of 94 percent.

"Our results demonstrate the feasibility of a computer-mediated [brain-to-brain interface] that links central neural functions between two biological entities, which may confer unexplored opportunities in the study of neuroscience with potential implications for therapeutic applications," according to the study's abstract.

This isn't the first time scientists have a created a brain-to-brain interface involving rats. In February, scientists connected two rats together using a BBI, and the rats were able to share thoughts between their two brains.

In one part of that experiment, the rats were rewarded with a drink of a water every time a light came on and they pressed a button. The scientists connected the two rats' brains together and put them in separate containers, only one of which had the light in it. Yet when the light came on, one of the rats was able to tell the other rat to press the button in order to get the water reward.

The scientists were even able to connect two rats' brains over the Internet.

In the human-rat brain-to-brain interface, the researchers mentioned the ethical and moral implications of brain control, but said it wasn't the area they were researching here.

"It is reasonable to assume that further advancements and establishment of BBI between human subjects, as well as within or across species, have the potential to trigger breaking ethical questions that cannot be satisfied by applying contemporary ethical concepts," the researchers wrote. "However, it is beyond the scope of this paper to address the particular moral and philosophical issues and complex challenges, possibly even undesirable consequences that may arise with the future application of this emerging technology."

Below, see history made as a human controls a rat's tail using his mind.

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