Star Trek fans are well familiar with Spock’s proficiency with the Vulcan mind-meld.
But neuroscientists say something similar really does happen when brains are electrically linked to share impulses across a network. Two studies published this year in the journal Scientific Reports described work connecting rat and monkey brains, respectively, via electrodes, enabling them to coordinate their thoughts to carry out simple tasks, such as pattern recognition and moving a robotic limb. After all, it stands to reason that if more neurons from a single brain can do a job better, linking together two or more brains would be even more efficient than one.
Duke University researchers led by neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis implanted two sets of electrodes in the brains of four rats and gave them a pattern recognition test to “solve.” Through trial and error, they found that the rats figured out to synchronize their brain signals. They acted in concert as a simple computer. The Duke team had similar results when they rigged up monkeys with brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). The three brain-linked monkeys were able to coordinate their efforts to manipulate a robotic arm. It’s still not Spock-worthy mind-melding, but it’s an exciting advance on the neuroscience front nonetheless.
Q’s Note: EEG’s are magnificent off the shelf ways to perform this synchronization.