A rat completed trained tasks and would transmit the answer to another rat

Duke University scientists have brought us a step closer to telepathy by training connected rats in a laboratory setting.

The Duke team, led by neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis, were able to wire the brains of two rats together and allow them to send information this way in order to complete desired tasks.

Here's how it works: two rats were trained to press one of two levers when a certain light was turned on. One rat was considered the "encoder" while the other was the "decoder."

In the experiment, the two rats were connected via tiny electrodes once they were trained to understand the task. The encoder was able to see the particular light flash on and was responsible for hitting the correct lever. The decoder, which could not see the lights flash, had to hit the correct lever based on the signal transmitted from the encoder (which came from the electrical activity in the encoder rat's brain).

To make sure the results showed that the decoder was actually making decisions based on the encoder's brain activity, the researchers also hooked the decoder up to a computer to receive similar stimulation. The results were very alike.

According to results (when the decoder was connected to the encoder), the decoder hit the correct lever about 64 percent of the time, but sometimes as high as 72 percent. The study said this was much more accurate than if the decoder had done this by chance.

A second experiment tested to see if the encoder could send the decoder information about touch. To do this, both rats were trained to stick their noses through an opening and use their whiskers to identify the opening as wide or narrow. If it was wide, the rats had to poke a computer port on their right. For narrow, to the left.

After training, the rats were once again hooked up, and when the encoder rat chose the correct port, it was sent to the decoder rat. The decoder rat then chose the correct port 60 to 65 percent of the time.

To make it a little more interesting, the team then offered the encoder rat an additional treat if the decoder rat made the correct decision. This upped the encoder rat's accuracy, and even made the signal in its brain clearer.

This study was published in Nature.

Source: Nature

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