American scientists from Duke University have created a biological computer by connecting the brains of several monkeys into a single system, capable of solving simple tasks and problems.
The scientific discovery borders that of science fiction because if the brains of several persons were to be connected in the same way, they will be able to communicate from a distance by transmitting thoughts to each other, writes Scientific Reports journal.
The author of the ambitious project is neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis. The goal of his research was to create electronic prostheses for disabled people, capable of being controlled with the power of thought.
It all began with the development of standard brain-computer interfaces. By using this technology with electrodes that transmit brain impulses, the various objects connected to them can be made to move.
Nicolelis and his colleagues connected the brains of 3 monkeys to a computer, with the movements of a robotic hand being transmitted to the monitor in real time. Motivated with different kinds of rewards, the primates managed to get the hand to reach its goal with the power of thought.
The tests continued and the primates were given even more complex tasks, which they were also able to handle. "They solved the problems they were posed, creating a superbrain from 3 separate organs. We called this structured Brainet, " stated Nicolelis.
In the next phase of the project, the scientists continued their experiments with animals, this time using a mouse. They implanted electrodes in the brains of the rodents which were to stimulate their neural network.
The goal was for the animals to synchronize their brains without using the help of a computer. Scientist began sending electrical impulses and rewarding the animals for successful synchronization of brain activity. After 10 sessions, the mice were able to synchronize 61% of the time.
Nicolelis believes that if he's able to perfect the synchronization of several human brains, there is a chance for them to begin exchanging thoughts without using language in the very near future.
Mathematicians for example don't always find it easy to talk about very complex and abstract problems. Brainet would be able to be used for solving problems collectively, he notes.
Nicolelis explains that the technology can find wide applications but at the moment he is focused on creating an exoskeleton, controllable with the power of the mind, for paralyzed people.