In a stunning first for neuroscience, researchers have created an electronic link between the brains of two rats, and demonstrated that signals from the mind of one can help the second solve basic puzzles in real time — even when those animals are separated by thousands of miles.
Here's how it works. An "encoder" rat in Natal, Brazil, trained in a specific behavioral task, presses a lever in its cage it knows will earn it a reward. A brain implant records activity from the rat's motor cortex and converts it into an electrical signal that is delivered via neural link to the brain implant of a second "decoder" rat.
Still with us? This is where things get interesting. Rat number two is in an entirely different cage. In fact, it's in North Carolina. The second rat's motor cortex processes the signal from rat number one and — despite being unfamiliar with the behavioral task the first rat has been conditioned to perform — uses that information to press the same lever.