Lab rats given 'sixth sense' after brain implants
Researchers have successfully given lab rats a "sixth sense."
Duke University researchers implanted a device in the rats' brains that allowed them to sense infrared light.
The study placed electrodes attached to an infrared detector in the brains of the rats.
The electrodes were placed in an area of the brain responsible for touch, reported Science Recorder.
The experiments saw the rats put in a chamber with three infrared light sources.
They taught the rats to choose which light was switched on by poking their nose on the right hole.
If they were successful they were given a sip of water as a reward.
As infrared light is normally invisible to the rats, the implanted infrared sensors helped the rats choose where the light was coming from.
After a month, the rats were able to associate the infrared light with the signals in their brains, said the Guardian.
The rats were then able to find the infrared light in order to receive a reward.
The research suggests that one day someone with a damaged visual cortex could one day regain their site.
"We could create devices sensitive to any physical energy," said study author Miguel Nicolelis, reported BBC.
"It could be magnetic fields, radio waves, or ultrasound. We chose infrared initially because it didn't interfere with our electrophysiological recordings."
The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.