Brainet: scientists could make an internet of human brains

Monkey and rat brains have been successfully connected to each other — demonstrating that one day humans could be plugged straight into networks

Animal brains are preserved at The Grant Museum of Zoology on September 4, 2012 in London, England
Animal brains are preserved at The Grant Museum of Zoology on September 4, 2012 in London, England

Scientists have successfully attached together the brains of monkeys and rats, making way to potentially do the same to humans.

By linking the brains together, scientists suggest that they could create Brainets — a system of brains attached together to make an “organic computer”. The experiments found that the successfully connected animals brains were at least as good as one single one, and often better, and so could be the beginning of more research on connected animal brains.

“Essentially, we created a super-brain,” Miguel Nicolelis, the study’s lead author, told The Guardian.

The successful tests show that it could be possible to do the same thing with human brains. That could mean that the idea that we can never escape our own selves and brains is wrong — letting us attach ourselves together and become more clever in the process.

In the monkey experiment, the three animals were attached together using special sensors that were implanted in their brain and could transmit activity. The three of them successfully learnt to control a virtual avatar on a screen, working together to move its arm.

In the rat one, scientists plugged in four different rats to a machine that could capture and transmit their brain signals. They then successfully did challenges, including recognising patterns and storing information.

The equipment used in the experiments could be used to do the same thing for human brains.

"This is the first demonstration of a shared brain-machine interface, a paradigm that has been translated successfully over the past decades from studies in animals all the way to clinical applications," Miguel Nicolelis said in a statement.

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