- Special Features
- Blogs & Columns
- Fun & Games
Scientists aid in giving lab rats a “sixth sense” through a brain implant that allows them to detect an infrared light.
The Telegraph reported that the light could not be seen but the rats were able to detect it through electrodes that were implanted within the part of the brain responsible for their sense of touch.
The specific electrodes implanted were attached to an infrared detector, according to the Science Recorder.
Not only is this study a breakthrough by giving rats an entirely new sense, it brings scientists a step closer to figuring out how to apply this sort of technology to humans.
Miguel Nicolelis, from the Duke University Medical Center, stated that it is the first time in which machines could create a sense in an adult animal’s brain. Also, it supported the fact that the brain can take on a new task while simultaneously adhering to its old job.
“The nerves were responding to both touch and infrared light at the same time. This shows that the adult brain can acquire new capabilities that have never been experienced by the animal before,” Nicolelis said. “This suggests that, in the future, you could use prosthetic devices to restore sensory modalities that have been lost, such as vision, using a different part of the brain.”