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DARPA-funded scientists ‘mind-meld’ rats across continents

Posted by iscariotes em 2 de março de 2013

Fonte: Digital Jornal


Scientists have achieved a crude form of “brain link,” or “mind meld” across continents. They have been able to send the thoughts of a rat in a lab in Brazil via the Internet to the brain of a rat in the United States. They have also been able to make the rats cooperate in solving problems, creating what has been described as a “brain-net.”

The scientists effectively developed a means to pass information from the brain of one rat to the other exactly like computers hooked to the Web. They used microchips implanted in the brains of the rats to teach them not only to pass information but to co-operate and solve problems even when separated by thousands of miles on different continents.

Duke University Medical Center neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis, who led the research said theirs was the first major step in “brain-to-brain interface,” and predicted that we may one day have an “organic Internet” composed of several interconnected brains working to solve problems that a single brain is unable to solve. As demonstrated on Internet, enthusiasts say that linking human brains together may allow humans to combine brain power to solve problems too difficult for one person to handle alone.

According to the study entitled: “A Brain-to-Brain Interface for Real-Time Sharing of Sensorimotor Information,” published on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, the thoughts of the first rat were picked up using electronic sensors and sent through the Internet to the second rat which mimicked the behavior of the first rat when it received its thoughts.

However, the research has led to criticism. Many scientists and laymen are uneasy about the immediate and remote ethical implications of the research, especially after the news that Nicolelis and his team have started work on brain-to-brain communication between monkeys.

Reuters reports that a neuroscientist and specialist in brain research, said: “Having non-human primates communicate brain-to-brain raises all sorts of ethical concerns. Reading about putting things in animals’ brains and changing what they do, people rightly get nervous.”

For many, this field of research conjures up dystopian images of battalions of zombie soldiers whose brains are collectively controlled from HQ, a picture Reuters comments makes “drone warfare seem as advanced as muskets.”

The involvement of Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) only raises concern for many already worried about its ethical implications. According to Reuters, Nicolelis’s lab received $26 million from DARPA for research into brain-machine interfaces.

Reuters also explains that Nicolelis’s research builds on 15 years of research into brain-machine interfaces in which electrical signals generated from the brains of paralyzed subjects are translated into commands that move a mechanical arm, a computer cursor or the arms of patients.

This previous line of research extended logically to the question that Nicolelis asked and led to research into using a brain to decode the electrical signals generated by another.


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