A team of Duke University Medical Center researchers in North Carolina are learning to connect multiple animal brains, having them work together as a sort of living computer.
Based on the same technology which allows human and animal brains to control machines or prosthetic limbs, electrical activity in the brain is converted into clear signals.
An early experiment has linked the brains of three monkeys to a single computer, tasking them with moving an animated robotic arm. By working together - forming what the team termed a "brainet" - they were able to move the arm to a set target.
In a second experiment, four rat brains were connected not only to a computer, but also to one another. By rewarding them for synchronizing their actions, the rats learned to do so more frequently. Similar to a computer, working in this manner divides the computing of a task across multiple brains.
Possible human applications include sharing complex mathematical or scientific thoughts between researchers, collectively joining mental forces to accomplish tasks such as surgery - and maybe even doing away with language all-together at some point.
To reach this point, a huge amount of research still needs to be conducted, and a way to connect brains non-invasively has to be found. The implications of this kind of work must also be considered: the divide between public and private thoughts would have to be secure, and protections put in place so that one brain could not manipulate others in the network.