Creating a "superbrain" of connected minds, scientists on Thursday said they had enabled a rat to help a fellow rodent while the animals were a continent apart.
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Cages for rats in a laboratory in Paris on September 19, 2002 (AFP/File, Frederick Florin)
Scientists link two rats' brains, a continent apart
Creating a "superbrain" of connected minds, scientists on Thursday said they had enabled a rat to help a fellow rodent while the animals were a continent apart but connected through brain electrodes.
With electrodes embedded in its cortex, a rat in a research institute in Natal, Brazil sent signals via the Internet to a counterpart at a university lab in Durham, North Carolina, helping the second animal to get a reward.
The exploit opens up the prospect of linking brains among animals to create an "organic computer," said Brazilian neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis.
It also helps the quest to empower patients stricken with paralysis or locked-in syndrome, he said.
"We established a functional linkage between two brains. We created a superbrain that comprises two brains," Nicolelis said in a phone interview with AFP.
Published in the journal Scientific Reports, Nicolelis' team gave basic training to thirsty rats, who had to recognise lights and operate a lever to get a reward of water.
They then implanted ultra-fine electrodes in the rats' brains, which were linked by a slender overhead cable to a computer.
In a glass tank in Natal, the first rat was the "encoder," its brain sending out a stream of electrical pulses as it figured out the tricks for getting the reward.
The pulses were sent in real time into the cortex of the second rat, or "decoder," rat, which was facing identical apparatus in a tank in North Carolina.
With these prompts from its chum, the decoder rat swiftly found the reward.
"The pair of animals collaborated to solve a task together," said Nicolelis. AFP
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laboratory – a room or building used for scientific research, experiments, testing, etc ห้องปฏิบัติการ, ห้องทดลอง
link – to connect เชื่อม
continent – one of the seven large land masses on the Earth's surface, surrounded, or mainly surrounded, by sea and usually consisting of various countries (adjective form is continental) ทวีป
enable – to make someone able to do something, or to make something possible ทำให้เป็นไปได้
fellow – used for talking about people/animals who are similar or are in the same situation ซึ่งอยู่ในสภาพเดียวกัน
rodent – any small animal that belongs to a group of animals with strong sharp front teeth. Mice, rats and squirrels are all rodents สัตว์ที่ใช้ฟันแทะ, สัตว์จำพวกหนู
electrode – either of two points (or terminals ) by which an electric current enters or leaves a battery or other electrical device ขั้วไฟฟ้า, อิเล็กโทรด
embed – to fix something firmly in a surface or object ฝังลงไป
cortex – the outer layer of an organ in the body, especially the brain เปลือกนอก, ส่วนชั้นนอกของอวัยวะ
counterpart – someone/something who has the same job or purpose as another person or thing, but in a different country, time, situation, or organisation ผู้ที่ทำงานประเภทเดียวกัน; ผู้ที่อยู่ในตำแหน่งเสมอกัน
reward – something given in exchange for good behaviour or good work, etc รางวัล
exploit – a brave, exciting or interesting act การกระทำที่กล้าหาญ
prospect – the possibility that something will happen โอกาส
quest – a long search for something, especially for some quality such as happiness การแสวงหา
empower – to give someone the power to do something ทำให้มีอำนาจ
patient – someone who is receiving medical treatment คนป่วย, คนไข้
stricken – affected by serious problems such as injury or illnessได้รับผลกระทบจากปัญหาหนักหน่วง
paralysis – a loss of control of, and sometimes feeling in, part or most of the body, caused by disease or an injury to the nerves อัมพาต
locked-in syndrome – a condition in which a patient is aware and awake but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis
functional – able to be done or used ใช้การได้
comprise – to consist or be made up of two or more things ประกอบด้วย
journal – a newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or profession นิตยสาร, วารสาร
thirsty – needing or wanting to drink กระหายน้ำ
lever – a handle used to operate a vehicle or piece of machinery; long piece of wood, metal, etc. used for lifting or opening something by somebody placing one end of it under an object and pushing down on the other end ชะแลง, เหล็กงัด
fine – made up of very small pieces ละเอียด
ultrafine – made up of extremely small pieces
slender – thin and delicate ผอมบาง, ผอมเพรียว
stream – a continuous flow of something การไหลต่อเนื่อง, กระแส
pulse – a single short increase in the amount of light, sound or electricity produced by a machine, etc พัลส์
real-time – actual time; dealing with information as soon as it is received ตามเวลาจริง
figure out – to be able to understand something or to solve a problem คิดออก
identical – exactly the same, or very similar เหมือนกัน, แบบเดียวกัน
apparatus – the machines, tools, and equipment needed for doing something, especially something technical or scientific เครื่องมือ, อุปกรณ์, เครื่องช่วย
prompt – a word or words, action, etc. to help someone decide what to do next การเตือนความจำ
chum – a friend เพื่อน
swiftly – happening quickly อย่างรวดเร็ว โดยด่วน
collaborate – to work together with someone else ร่วมมือ
solve – to successfully deal with a problem or difficult situation แก้ปัญหา
task – something that you have to do หน้าที่; ภารกิจ