We Always Knew This Day Would Come… Our Dream of Brain-to-Brain Interfacing with Rats Comes True

Science fiction is becoming reality at the Harvard medical school. Researchers there have, for the first time ever, created a cross species brain to brain interface.

The interface allowed for a “non-invasive functional linkage of brain activity between human volunteers and Sprague–Dawley rats.”While this might sound like something out of a B movie, these researchers enabled human participants to quite literally wag the tail on a rat simply by looking at a strobing image on a computer screen.

“Finally, Pinky!”

Using Transcranial, meaning traversing the skull , focused ultrasound, a form of non-audible acoustic energy,(FUS) they created a non-invasive computer to brain interface that could stimulate the neurons in the rats motor cortex associated with tail movement. That interface was then coupled to a standard EEG for the human that measured the “steady state visual evoked potentials”(SSEVP) which could “sense’ when the participants were looking, with intent, at a strobing pattern on a computer screen.

When the participants looked at the pattern on the screen, roughly 2 seconds later, and 95% of the time, the rats tail would twitch. What all of this means, is that the first steps to knowing exactly what someone else is feeling or thinking have been made.

This research, while objectively just a baby step, represents a major leap forward in human brain to brain interfaces. In the not too distant future doctors and psychologists may not have to ask you where it hurts or how you are feeling, but will be able to actually feel your pain and suffering.

Beyond medical applications this kind of technologically mediated telepathy will also likely find its way into the law enforcement arena as officers and judges will be able to use it to tell when someone is actually lying, or to determine if someone testifying about some incident is feeling duress.

But most importantly, this kind of technology will enable even more intimate relationships between spouses, families, and friends. Imagine being able to “know” just how happy or sad you are significant other is. Parents will be able to know when their child is in danger, not because they can see them or are digitally stalking them, but because they will literally their stress levels rise. Wives might even imagine being able to share the excruciating pain of childbirth with their husbands, something I think we can all agree would go a long way to ending the patriarchy.

By William Tatum