This article shows clearly that the reading of minds is almost accomplished in the UNclassified world. Since CLASSIFIED technology is always a decade or two ahead of the unclassified world, imagine what exists now in the black areas of defense contractors and government labs!

Rats Control Robot by Thought Alone

By Maggie Fox

WASHINGTON (June 23) - It sounds like something out of science
fiction -- a rat with a small electrode sticking out of its head
decides it wants a drink and, without touching anything at all,
gets a robotic arm to bring it some water.

Still, a team of neurobiologists say their rats can control a
machine with brainpower alone, and they think their technology may
someday help paralyzed people.

''The people in the lab started calling the experiment the
'thinking about drinking experiment,' John Chapin of Hahnemann
Medical College in Philadelphia, who led the research, said in a
telephone interview. ''But we don't know whether rats think.''

Whatever the rats are doing, they are controlling the robotic arm
without touching anything, said Chapin, who worked with colleagues
at Duke University in North Carolina.

Reporting in the July issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience,
they said they implanted tiny electrodes, no thicker than a hair,
into the brains of six rats.

''It doesn't hurt the animal,'' Chapin said. ''All there is is a
little plug coming out of the animal's head. He runs around the
cage and everything.''

The electrode is recording the activity of neurons -- on average 46
-- which Chapin found was important to making the experiment work.
Earlier studies that recorded the activity of just one or a few
brain cells did not work.

''We trained the rat initially to put his paw on a lever and to
press the lever down. When the lever got pressed down there was a
robot arm that moved over to a water dropper and then brought the
water back to the animal's mouth,'' Chapin said.

The rats had to carefully control the lever -- if they only pushed
the lever halfway, it would only bring the arm halfway to them.

Chapin's team then recorded the brain activity associated with the
movement of pressing the lever.

''We have an electronic device that converted those patterns of
activity in the brain of the animal into a single electronic signal
that could move the robot arm,'' Chapin said.

Soon they disconnected the lever from the robot arm and hooked it
up to the converting device alone.

They found, as other researchers have, that the brain activity
controlling the movement came before the actual movement.

''When control of the robot arm was switched to the brain, the
robot arm went over and brought water to the animal's mouth before
the animal even started to move,'' Chapin said.

''After a couple of days, the animals began to recognize that and
they stopped actually pressing the lever.''

Chapin said if the technique can be proven safe and reliable in
animals such as monkeys, which have bigger and more complex brains
than rats, it might eventually be tested in people with severe

''If this really becomes a workable thing, I think there are a lot
of people that could use it,'' he said.

It is important to record the signals from many neurons and not
just a few, Chapin said. Of the six rats tested, he added, just
four could get the arm to work. ''Two rats would do it a few times
and then they would stop,'' he said.

''The reason was we were not recording enough neurons in those
animals. The robot arm would jerk around a lot and it wasn't
smooth. When the animal tried to get his mouth around it, it would
kind of bop him on the nose. They didn't like it.''

For complex movements, such as those made by an artificial limb,
even more neurons will be required, he said.

''In principle, it should be possible to tap this information and
control a prosthetic limb,'' Dr. Eberhard Fetz of the University of
Washington in Seattle wrote in a commentary on the findings.

REUTERS 11:01 06-23-99