13:33 19 February 2013
The team at Duke University, headed by lead author Miguel Nicolelis, has successfully given laboratory rats “sixth sense” by implanting infrared detectors. These are wired to microscopic electrodes in the part of their brains that process tactile information. This device allows the rats to “touch” infrared light, which is normally invisible to them.
The results of the study, which were published in the Nature Communications journal, reveal that humans with damaged visual cortex might be able to regain sight through a device implanted in another part of the brain.
Lead author Miguel Nicolelis said that this was the first time a device like this has augmented a sense in adult animals.
He added: "We could create devices sensitive to any physical energy.”
"It could be magnetic fields, radio waves, or ultrasound. We chose infrared initially because it didn't interfere with our electrophysiological recordings."
Nicolelis colleague Eric Thomson commented: "The philosophy of the field of brain-machine interfaces has until now been to attempt to restore a motor function lost to lesion or damage of the central nervous system.
"This is the first paper in which a neuroprosthetic device was used to augment function - literally enabling a normal animal to acquire a sixth sense."
Disclaimer: Supanet is not responsible for, and disclaims any and all liability for the content of comments written by contributors to this website