Saturday, 2 March 2013

elective affinities or the boys from brazil

Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis has recently brought experimentation to the scientific community and the public with much enthusiasm and a certain flair that demonstrates the possibility of a future forms of communication, suggestion, via pure thoughts with a brain-to-brain interface. The trial consisted of two laboratory rats, geographically separated: one, the transmitting rat in a facility in Nicolelis’ native Brazil was conditioned to associate certain cues with the chance to get a reward, sweetened water as opposed to plain water. The other rat in the States, the receiver, was in a similar environment and opportunities for the treat were precisely synchronized.
The rat in America, however, was not privy to any of the sending rat’s cues, except that the rats’ brains were wired with electrodes and the former could telegraph via cables in the facility and over the Internet a micro-stimulus to the latter when he anticipated getting the reward. Their coordinated responses resulted in the American rat going for the reward at the exact moment the Brazilian right got the cue nearly seventy percent of the time; the Brazilian rate was transmitting the same conditioned response, impulse practically every time. The success rate shows that some significant mental exchange was going on but also suggests the limitations of scientists to pin-point the exact same neurons in two different subjects and that while there may be over-arching similarities, no two brains—or though-processes for that matter, are exactly identical. This sort of tethering is not telepathy or even Bluetooth. Communication was not reciprocal and who knows what the strangers would have thought if they knew their roles? What do you think? Will such stuff of science-fiction be the twitterpation of the near future and should we pursue this route?