Researchers Successfully Use Thoughts To Steer Cyborg Rats Through Maze

Here’s a fucking perfectly ordinary sentence: Scientists have reportedly successfully used a brain-to-brain interface to control the movements of a cyborg rat. Sure. Alright. Fair enough. Why not. Why the hell not.

In a report titled Human Mind Control of Rat Cyborg’s Continuous Locomotion with Wireless Brain-to-Brain Interface, published on Monday in the journal Nature, researchers from China‘s Zhejiang University claim to have successfully set up a system where the thoughts of a human user can accurately control the movements of a rat cyborg. I really cannot stress enough that “rat cyborg” is their own choice of words.

In the study, rats were fitted with their “rat cyborg system“, which saw pairs of electrodes implanted throughout the rats’ brain. After the rats were “allowed to recover from the surgery” (directly quoting this because every phrase in this paper is just… a lot) they were then trained to respond to specific stimulus from the electrodes with specific actions, thus allowing them to receive signals that corresponded to forwards, left, and right.

As shown in this simply wonderful diagram, humans were measured for electroencephalogram signals that corresponded to specific instructions, which were then wirelessly transmitted to the rat cyborg:

The rats were tested in three different stages: one where the rat was controlled manually, and two via brain control, each with different control models. In the manual stages, they found that “a well-trained rat cyborg could achieve an exceptionally high rate of nearly 100%“, which dropped off down to around 85% as they switched to the first of the brain models, but they found that this gradually increased back up to around 98%, “indicating that the rat cyborgs could quickly be accustomed to the transition of different control styles“. A drop in success rate in one session was attributed to “the poor performance … of one rat cyborg“.

I’m not entirely sure what the implications of this are, but it’s sure cool as shit. You can read the whole paper here.