Telepathic control of another person’s body is a small step closer. By linking the technologies of two brain/computer interfaces, human volunteers were able to trigger movement in a rat’s tail using their minds. Recently, researchers linked the brains of two rats so that they worked together to accomplish a task. Such techniques are unlikely to be applied to humans any time soon because they require invasive surgery to implant electrodes into the brain.
Now Seung-Schik Yoo of Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues have created a system that connects a human to a rat via a computer, without the need for the human or the rat to have brain implants. The human volunteers wore electrode caps that monitored their brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). Meanwhile, an anaesthetised rat was hooked up to a device that made the creature’s neurons fire whenever it delivered an ultrasonic pulse to the rat’s motor cortex.
Yoo says it should be possible for two humans to use a similar system in the foreseeable future. Such a system could, for instance, be used to help a paralysed person relearn to use their limbs by having their therapist initially move them with their mind.