Sunday, August 2, 2015

Researchers: We created human-rat mind meld

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Sometimes the tail wags the dog.

But now, now, according to a new scientific report, humans can wag the tail of a rodent via mind-meld.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital claim they were able to use ultrasound to create the meld between volunteers and an anesthetized rat.

The researchers’ results were published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE. Controlling machines by brain interface is not new. The same principle already allows some quadriplegics to control their wheelchairs.

But this was the first instance of an inter-species connection.

Without any surgery to either the brain of the volunteers or the rats, the volunteers were able to stimulate the part of the rodents’ brain that controlled their tail, according to the report.

Wearing headgear connected to an electroencephalogram (EEG), the volunteers gazed at a flickering image on a computer screen as another computer analyzed the volunteer brain activity.

The scientist tethered the people and rodents together virtually through what’s known as a “transcranial focused ultrasound,” or FUS), which can modulates the activity of specific regions within the brain, and provide a “computer-to-brain interface.”

The interface can allow a person to use his or her brain to issue computer commands. So, the researchers got the idea that maybe the equipment might also allow a person to link with another species for a “brain-to-brain interface”.

The researchers say they were able to successfully measure tail movement through a motion sensor. They believe the results demonstrate “unexplored opportunities in the study of neuroscience with potential implications for therapeutic applications."

The work was supported by, among other institutions, the National Institutes of Health and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

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