|"Rodent Mind Meld" (Via Wired)|
The researchers conducted three experiments that demonstrated an artificial communication channel where cortical sensorimotor signals, coded for a specific behavioral response, were recorded in the encoder rat and transmitted to the decoder rat. Once received from the encoder rat, the decoder rat was instructed by these signals in making behavioral choices. In the first experiment, a motor task, the encoder rat pressed one of two levels indicated by a LED light. This information was transferred via ICMS to the decoder rat, who would then choose the same lever without the help of the LED light. While the encoder rat performed better than the decoder rat, the decoder rat did perform correctly at levels significantly above chance. In the second experiment, the decoder rat again performed significantly better than chance, but in a tactile discrimination task. The encoder rats were trained to discriminate the size of an aperture with their whiskers; if the aperture were narrow, then the rats would nose poke on the left, while if the aperture were wide, the rats would nose poke on the right. Encoder rats explored the aperture, nose poked the right or the left, and then again, through ICMS, this information was sent to the decoder rat. The decoder rat would then also poke to the right or the left, but without any hint about the size of the aperture. Not only did researchers conduct this experiment with encoder and decoder rats residing in the same Duke laboratory, but impressively the same tactile discrimination task was also completed with an encoder rat in Brazil and a decoder rat at Duke, showing the potential of long-distance BTBI technology.