Believe it or not, scientists from the Duke University School of Medicine have finally managed to prove that telepathy is possible. Not with humans, mind you, but with rats, who are usually game for these things.
First, researchers trained pairs of rats to solve a simple problem: if they pressed a level when a light flashed above it, they received a sip of water. Afterwards, they placed rats into different spaces: in one of them, levels and lights were coupled as the animals saw during their training, but in the other one there were no lights to indicate the correct level. At this point, two rats’ brains were connected via arrays of microelectrodes inserted into the area of the cortex that processes motor information. Scientists checked that rats with visual feedback achieved a 78% task success, but rats without feedback achieved a 70% thanks to the brain connection. Furthermore, they tested cooperation by giving rewards to the rats only when both succeeded in pressing the correct level. This test seems to point out that the transmitter rat was actually capable of “thinking clearer” to get the reward, so that reception would be easier to decode. This proves that transmission was actually bidirectional and both rats could process each other’s brain impulses. According to the research leader, MD PhD Miguel Nicoledis, this is equivalent to “…creating an organic computer that solves a puzzle”.
Furthermore, in a second set of experiments, the researchers trained pairs of rats to distinguish between a narrow or wide opening using their whiskers. To get their rewards, they had to nose-poke a water port to the left in narrow openings and to the right in wide ones. Locally, receiving rats got a 65% success in the task, but the researchers also placed an transmitting rat in Brazil, at the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal (ELS-IINN), and transmitted its brain signals over the Internet to a receiving rat in Durham, N.C. Apparently, rats could still work together in a networking configuration.
Indeed, the target of these tests is not (wireless, non intrusive) telepathy in an X Men way, but rather establishing a brain network in what the team is calling an “organic computer” which could allow sharing of motor and sensory information among groups of animals. This idea kind of reminds me to many other scifi movies some of which you probably know…
the bugs in Starship Troopers or, if we go one step further, the lovely kids in Village of the Damned
“We cannot predict what kinds of emergent properties would appear when animals begin interacting as part of a brain-net. In theory, you could imagine that a combination of brains could provide solutions that individual brains cannot achieve by themselves. Such a connection might even mean that one animal would incorporate another’s sense of “self,” Nicoledis said.
Full text in Science Daily