Editorial: A small step for Ratty, a giant leap for neuroscience


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The Independent Online

Direct, brain-to-brain communication? Digitally enhanced nervous systems? “Organic” computing? If Professor Miguel Nicolelis has his way, such hi-tech enhancements are not as far off as you might think.

Not content with wiring infra-red sensors into rats’ brains (giving them a sixth sense inaccessible to their un-augmented peers), the Brazilian neuroscientist has now proved that two rodents can communicate with each other, directly, brain to brain – albeit via a cable. Armed with murine insights, Professor Nicolelis hopes that next year’s World Cup in Brazil can be opened by a paralysed person restored to movement using an articulated exoskeleton controlled by the power of their mind. Here’s hoping. It is a long way from rats to people, of course. But a carbon/silicon interface, once established, has literally mind-boggling potential. Science fiction? Not for long, perhaps.