Neuroscientists at Duke University claim that telepathic communication between rats can be done across continents (video below), according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.
According to USNews.com, 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 second rat did not receive a visual cue, but received brain waves via electrodes between the rats' brains that informed it which lever to push.
If the second rat pressed the correct lever, the first rat would receive an additional reward. 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," said study lead researcher Miguel Nicolelis. "It took us years to get this to work."
Nicolelis placed one rat in his lab in Durham, N.C., and the other in a lab in Brazil. Using an Internet connection, he found the rats were able to work together.
"We wanted to show that even when the line was noisy, we were able to get this to work," Nicolelis said. "We used to do this with wires but now we're doing everything wirelessly and experimenting with swarms of rats."
Nicolelis has now begun the same experiment with monkeys: "Once we got it to work in rats, we were able to unlock the secret to this technology. We're already doing very much more sophisticated experiments with monkeys. They're learning to play games, controlling avatars of themselves on a screen."
"I'm not implying we should test now in humans, but when people made the first telephone transmission 100 years ago, people said it was too simplistic, it'd never work. I think this is an important first step."