Researchers at Harvard Medical School, Boston, have successfully connected the minds of humans and rats such that the movement of the rats’ tails can be controlled by human thought. Unlike previous attempts at connecting brains which required invasive surgery, the new method requires no such procedure. “The human volunteers wore electrode caps that monitored their brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). Meanwhile, an anaesthetised rat was hooked up to a device that made the creature’s neurons fire whenever it delivered an ultrasonic pulse to the rat’s motor cortex.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Using the electrode caps to measure brain activity, researchers found a specific thought pattern in humans that corresponded to visual stimulation. When the individuals’ attention shifted in an attempt to move the rat’s tail, the computer translated this signal into an ultrasonic pulse, which stimulated the rat’s motor cortex, causing its tail to move. Seung-Schik Yoo, who led the research, said: “[I]t should be possible for two humans to use a similar system in the foreseeable future. Such a system could, for instance, be used to help a paralysed person relearn to use their limbs by having their therapist initially move them with their mind.”