Home » Uncategorized » Video: Lab Rats Augmented with Infrared Vision Superpowers
130214-rat1

Video: Lab Rats Augmented with Infrared Vision Superpowers


For science! Normally, mammals don’t have the ability to have infrared vision, as it’s just outside of what we consider to be the visible spectrum. However, scientists at Duke University have effectively given infrared vision to their lab rats by way of a neuroprosthesis.

First, they trained the rats to respond to a series of LED lights inside of a test chamber. When the light turns on, they learn to scurry toward that light and they are rewarded with a treat. Then, they implanted “an array of tiny stimulating electrodes into the touch-sensing part” of the rat’s brain. These electrodes were then connected to an infrared sensor, which was surgically attached to the rat’s foreheads so that it can react in the direction that the rat is facing.

After replacing the LED lights with infrared lights in the test chamber, they ran through the same kind of trial. Initially, the rats would just scratch their faces, as if something were touching their whiskers. This makes sense, as the “touch-sensing part” of the brain was being activated. Over the course of the next few weeks, though, the rats started to learn how to react to those infrared lights, doing the same thing they did when there were LED lights: they ran toward the “reward port” where the infrared light turned on and got their treat. In effect, the rats gained crude infrared vision.

What’s interesting is that the relevant neurons never lost their initial capabilities; they still responded to touch and the rats could still feel their whiskers. It just so happened that the same part of the brain gained the new function of “seeing” infrared light. Now, you can see how this can be expanded to just about any other stimuli, like “magnetic fields, radio waves or ultrasound,” as described by principal investigator Miguel Nicolelis. And then it’s only a matter of time before us humans get access to these implants and augmented abilities.

This isn’t just about creating people with superpowers. It could be adapted to “restore” vision to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and so much more. Further testing is certainly required, but this is a fascinating new arena for science.

[Source]

About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

Check Also

wii-oculus-rift-hoverboard

Try Oculus Rift And Wii To Roam Around On The Back To The Future Hoverboard

Check out how you can fly in virtual space by using an Oculus Rift and a Wii Balance Board.

131129-amz

Amazon Appstore for Android Holiday Deals, Including Free Apps

There are tons of deals from the Amazon Appstore that will be offered starting now and throughout the holiday shopping season. They say that they will have "hundreds of titles that are eitehr free... or available between 50-90% off" the regular price.

131129-google

Black Friday: Google Play Store Apps, Games and Content on Sale All Weekend

Case in point, if you head over to the Google Play Store right now, you'll find that Google is celebrating all Cyber Weekend with discounts on all sorts of content. This includes many popular apps and games

131129-gtab

Black Friday Deal: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1-Inch for $100 Off

Did you manage to score any epic Black Friday deals this morning? Are you still ...

131128-diy

Arduino Co-Creator Releases Plans for $200 DIY Mobile Phone

Mellis was one of the people who came up with the now hugely popular Arduino platform and now he has come up with plans for people to build their own cell phone for about $200 in parts.

131128-apple

No Discounts for Apple Black Friday, Just Free Gift Cards

If you were hoping to save yourself some cash as you brave the Black Friday shopping crowds, you'll want to go somewhere other than the official Apple Stores.