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Duke Neuroscientists Harness The Power Of Rodent's Minds With "Brainets"
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2Wycked Offline
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Duke Neuroscientists Harness The Power Of Rodent's Minds With "Brainets"
[Image: brain-neurons.jpeg?1436411661]

I saw a blurb about these brainets in USA Today, so I found a link to an article online here:

Quote:Resistance is futile — scientists are now one step closer to the Borg of "Star Trek," wiring brains together into "brainets" that can solve problems as teams, new experiments with monkeys and rats suggest.

The researchers say these so-called brain-to-brain interfaces could lead to "organic computers" made of multiple animal brains wired together.

Scientists worldwide are developing brain-machine interfaces through which people and lab animals can control robotic arms and exoskeletons using only their minds. These work by converting brain signals to computer signals and vice versa.

Recently, neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University Medical Center and his colleagues developed the first brain-to-brain interfaces, arrays of microscopic wires implanted in the brains of rats that allowed real-time intercontinental transfer of data between pairs of the rodents. One set of rats would learn to solve movement- or touch-based problems, and their brain activity was recorded as patterns of electrical stimulation that were transferred into the brains of another set of rats, helping the recipient animals solve those problems more quickly.

Now, Nicolelis and his colleagues have used brain-to-brain interfaces to create what they call brain networks, or brainets, that can work together to complete simple tasks.

In one set of experiments, the scientists linked rhesus macaque monkeys together into either a two-brain brainet, a B2, or a three-brain brainet, a B3. The primates all sat in separate rooms, sharing brain activity relating to their senses and movements.

The researchers next had the monkeys control the movements of a realistic virtual monkey arm on a video display. The amount of control each primate had over the arm depended on the experiment. For example, in one experiment, the monkeys in a B2 could each control only one of two dimensions of the arm's movement (such as up and down, or left and right), while in another, the monkeys in a B3 could each control two of three dimensions of movement (towards and away, for example).

If the monkeys successfully guided the arm to touch a moving target, they got a small reward of juice. The scientists found that with long-term training, the monkeys increasingly coordinated their behavior and synchronized their brain activity, leading to improved performance.

Monkey Brain-to-Brain Network

[Image: monkey-brain-interface.jpeg?1436452306]

Monkeys in separate rooms faced a computer monitor that showed a virtual arm. Researchers found that the animals synchronized their brain activity and worked together in these "brainets" to complete simple tasks.

In another set of experiments, the researchers connected three or four adult rats into a brainet to solve basic computational problems. The scientists first implanted arrays of microscopic wires in the primary somatosensory cortex of the rats, the brain region linked with the sense of touch. They next showed they could mildly electrically stimulate this part of the brain, generating what Nicolelis said was probably a tactile feeling of some kind.

In one experiment, when given this stimulation cue, thirsty rats learned they could get water if they synchronized the electrical activity of their brains. It's not known what exactly the rats do to change their brain activity, Nicolelis said.

Over time, rat brainets learned how to complete the simple computational task of pattern recognition. The rats recognize different patterns of brain stimulation, synchronizing their brain activity when they received one kind of stimulus and desynchronizing it if they received another, the researchers said.

The study revealed that such pattern recognition skills could be used to predict an increased or decreased chance of rain. The rats received patterns of electrical stimulation that represented increasing or decreasing air temperature and increasing or decreasing air pressure. Decreasing air pressure and increasing air temperature often signal early evening spring thunderstorms in North Carolina, where the research took place. The brainets predicted the chance of rain with 41 percent accuracy, much higher than chance, and better than single rats that received this data.

"The rats could divide tasks across animals, so their individual workload was much smaller," Nicolelis said. "We didn't expect that in the beginning."

Ain't that hoot? I thought we would all be replaced by robots before the end of the decade -- it sounds like hyperlinked hamsters might be the way of the future.

Here is a video of the monkeys sharing control of the virtual arm in 3D space:

Yeah, pretty boring.

Jokes aside about mass neural networks of rat brains, it sounds like there are some cool potential applications for humans:

Quote:Dr Nicolelis, who has previously pioneered brain-machine interfaces that could allow amputees to control their prosthetic limbs, dismissed comparisons with sci-fi films.

'We're conditioned by movies and Hollywood to think that everything related to science is dangerous and scary. These scary scenarios never crossed my mind.'

He doesn't think it will ever be possible to share emotions or personality in a brainet.

Instead, he thinks his research could be used to help people speak again following a stroke, by synchronising with the language region of a healthy person's brain, for example.

Iyad Rahwan at the Masdar Institute in Dubai, who was not involved in the study, told New Scientist: 'If human brains could be similarly connected, it might give us superhuman problem-solving abilities, and allow us to communicate abstract thoughts and experiences. It is really exciting.

'It will change the way humans cooperate.'

Any thoughts?

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(This post was last modified: 07-14-2015 12:09 AM by 2Wycked.)
07-14-2015 12:08 AM
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Eskhander Offline

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RE: Duke Neuroscientists Harness The Power Of Rodent's Minds With "Brainets"
What would happen if they hooked up a hamster and a woman at the same time?

In all seriousness, this is very interesting. But I am worried what will happen is what seemed to happen to another area of brain research. It had to do with mapping cognition, but it was stopped due to negative attention, earned by having some kind of politically incorrect implications and findings.

I would not be surprised if the same happens with this, however that is likely a long ways off.
07-14-2015 12:13 AM
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Paracelsus Offline
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RE: Duke Neuroscientists Harness The Power Of Rodent's Minds With "Brainets"
It's one of the steps towards transhumanism or indeed the singularity. By the end of this century hacking your fucking bank account will be a piddling inconvenience. It'll be literal brain hackers that'll be a problem.
07-14-2015 12:19 AM
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lskdfjldsf Offline
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RE: Duke Neuroscientists Harness The Power Of Rodent's Minds With "Brainets"
I used to be fascinated by this kind of technology as a teenager but now it terrifies me. If Facebook (just a website) or cell phones can turn people into self-obsessed consumerist zombies, completely altering our communication and reproductive habits, it's hard imagining a future where telekinesis and "organic computer syncing" provide any long-term benefit to the human experience.

In other words, "can we?" is an easy question for scientists and researchers to answer, but the "should we?" is a different story.

Just give me a plot of fertile land, a big-titted traditional wife, and a collection of books. All a man needs to be happy.
(This post was last modified: 07-14-2015 12:41 AM by lskdfjldsf.)
07-14-2015 12:32 AM
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Simeon_Strangelight Offline
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RE: Duke Neuroscientists Harness The Power Of Rodent's Minds With "Brainets"
We are all probably somewhat telepathic. Who knows how the world would look like if we were trained to use that part of ourselves from birth?

Technology may aid in that transporting thought patterns and emotions. But I would not hook up myself to that, since it can receive emotions that are not yours. It's not a Matrix-like neural upload where you learn Kung Fu in one minute.

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07-14-2015 03:36 AM
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