- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2013

Duke University neuroscientists have invented an implant that allows rats — and maybe monkeys — to communicate telepathically, even across great distances.

The discovery was published in Scientific Reports on Thursday. In brief: One rat was given a visual cue to push a particular lever to receive a food pellet. A second rat, in a different room, was not given a visual cue about which lever to push to get the pellet — but it was given brain wave transmissions, sent through a myriad of electrodes between the two rats’ brains, directing it to a certain lever, according to a report in U.S. News. If the second rat pushed the correct lever, the first rat would get a reward, according to the report. That established the partnership link between the rats, and gave them incentive to work together, according to the report.

The second rat pushed the proper lever 70 percent of the time — more times than statistical coincidence, according to the report.

“Nobody had ever done this, so the challenge was significant. We didn’t know if it would work,” says study lead researcher Miguel Nicolelis, as quoted by U.S. News. “It took us years to get this to work.”

The scientists then did the experiment again, only with one rat in North Carolina and the other in Brazil — and found similar success. The scientists are now experimenting with monkeys.

Mr. Nicolelis says it’s too early to see how human experiments would work. But it’s a breakthrough, he said, that “opens a completely new line of research. I’m not implying we should test now in humans, but when people made the first telephone transmission 100 years ago, people said it was too simplistic, it’d never work,” he said, according to U.S. News.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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