Brain Implant Gives Rats Infrared Vision
Scientists at Duke University stimulated sensory neurons in a way that eventually allowed six rats to locate light signals that are invisible to the (unmodified) naked eye.
What's the Latest Development?
After training six rats to locate LED-lit ports in a special chamber, Duke neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis and his team implanted electrodes into the sensory processing area of their brains and wired them to infrared cameras. When the camera detected infrared light, their whisker neurons would be stimulated, and the amount of stimulation would increase or decrease depending on the rats' proximity to the light. Then the team put them back into the chamber after replacing the LEDs with infrared signals. After 26 days, all of the rats were able to locate the ports. Details of the team's work was recently published in Nature Communications.
What's the Big Idea?
Months after the initial experiment, the rats could still respond to infrared light as well as to whisker stimulation, suggesting that the neurons are flexible enough to identify different types of cues. For humans, the ability to "train" sensory neurons to respond to things that go beyond current capabilities -- such as being able to "see" in infrared, or "feel" something with a prosthetic hand -- could mean a future in which all senses can be artificially magnified.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.
- Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
- The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
- Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.
- Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
- A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
- The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.