Science & Technology
Real-life 'mind melds' could help brains heal
By T.K. Randall
July 22, 2015 · 8 comments
Would you link minds with someone else to help cure an illness ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Allan Ajifo
Scientists believe that linking up two brains could help to treat a range of neurological conditions.
Unless you happen to be Mr Spock the idea of linking your own mind up to that of another individual might seem absurd, yet scientists at Duke University's Center for Neuroengineering in North Carolina believe that such a feat is not only possible but also potentially highly advantageous.
"We are trying a completely new field of brain rehabilitation," said director Miguel Nicolelis. "We are going to try to act on the circuits of the brain and actually improve the functional activity of the brain."
In a recent experiment a group of monkeys linked together through electrodes implanted in their brains were able to collectively move a virtual arm using a special brain-machine interface.
The researchers believe that in humans this type of technology could one day be used to help enhance neural activity in the brain and to cure a wide range of neurological problems.
"For example, in my paraplegic patients I noticed it was very difficult to start training using a brain signal, because the brain can literally forget that you have legs," said Nicolelis. "So part of this neurological rehab is to use another brain to reintroduce the concept to the brains of the patients."
Nicolelis even believes that we already engage in a type of brain sharing in our everday lives.
"When we're watching a movie in a theater, this type of feedback is probably synchronizing brains in the audience so that we have group reactions, laughing or crying at the same moments," he said.
"It can also explain why groups of people can collaborate to achieve a common goal. Like a sports team for example, where we often watch and say that a team is finally playing like a team and not like a bunch of individuals."
Source: Smithsonian Magazine
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