To what extent is it true that ‘two heads are better than one’? A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information may not seem like the answer to the question but it could prove a (somewhat controversial) milestone on the way to getting the answer.
BTBIFRTSOSI is the title of a paper from Duke University that in essence connected two rat’s brains and allowed them to share information using a direct connection – part of the experiment also involved using rats on different continents connected via the internet. The study captured data from the motor cortex of one rat and transmitted it to the brain of the other rat which then used the information to support the achievement of a task. The study’s authors see this as a significant step on the road to creating an organic computer capable of solving problems that a conventional Turing-machine would be unable to. They say that their process can be readily expanded from a 1:1 connection to one joining multiple brains simultaneously – so a super rat may be making its way to an internet café near you before too long. And the implications of when they progress to an in-man
study? Vulcan mind meld here we come?
Or, to put this work into a more realistic context, the Nicolelis Laboratory where it was undertaken is, in their own words, ‘best known for pioneering studies in neuronal population coding, Brain Machine Interfaces (BMI) and neuroprosthetics in human patients and non-human primates, we have also developed an integrative approach to studying neurological and psychiatric disorders including Parkinsons disease and epilepsy. We believe this approach will allow the integration of molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral data in the same animal, producing a more complete understanding of the nature of the neurophysiological alterations associated with these disorders’.