By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Founding Editor, bSci21.org
So you remember in The Matrix when Trinity needed to learn how to fly a helicopter and had software uploaded into her brain which instantly gave her a new behavioral repertoire? Researchers today are doing some pretty exciting experiments that can be thought of as lesser approximations to the classic 90s flick.
Charles Q. Choi, recently wrote a LiveScience article describing work on brain-to-brain interfaces…and it is exactly what it sounds like. A research team at Duke University literally “plugged in” two rat brains via wire implants and observed their problem-solving behavior. Charles noted “one set of rats would learn to solve movement- or touch-based problems, and their brain activity was recorded as patterns of electrical stimulation that were transferred into the brains of another set of rats, helping the recipient animals solve those problems more quickly.”
But that’s not all. Charles noted that the Duke team have also created “brainets” or networks of interconnected brains that pool their resources solve problems. The brainet studies, done with monkeys, involve connecting the brains of two to three monkeys. Charles noted “the primates all sat in separate rooms, sharing brain activity relating to their senses and movements.” Their goal was to move a virtual arm by coordinating brain activity. If the monkeys met their goals, they received juice reinforcers and showed improved performance over time.
One potential application of such research, according to the article, is to “link paralyzed patients with healthy volunteers to help them learn how to move again.”
Be sure to check out the full article from LiveScience here, and let us know what you think about this exciting research. Also, be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com. Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues. He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at email@example.com.