Neuroscientists at Duke University have proven that telepathic communication—between rats—is not only possible, but can be done across continents. Similar experiments are already being tested on monkeys.
The discovery, published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, is the first confirmed brain-to-brain communication between animals.
In the experiment, two rats that could not see each other were trained to press certain levers in exchange for a food pellet. The first rat was given a visual cue that told it which of two levers to push, which corresponded to a lever in the other rat's chamber. The other rat did not receive a visual cue but instead received brain waves (transmitted through arrays of electrodes between the rats' brains) that informed it which lever to push.
If the second rat pressed the correct lever, the first "encoder" rat would receive an additional reward, giving the rats incentive to work together. The second rat pressed the correct lever 70 percent of the time.
"Nobody had ever done this, so the challenge was significant. We didn't know if it would work," says study lead researcher Miguel Nicolelis. "It took us years to get this to work."