Brain implants give lab rats a sixth sense and let them “touch” light

Brain implants give lab rats a sixth sense and let them “touch” light

Brain implants give lab rats a sixth sense and let them “touch” light

Scientists from Duke University have found a way to make rats “feel” invisible infrared light and someday that same tech could give sight to the blind, or give us humans extras senses for fun.

In the experiment published in Nature, rats were first taught to respond to one of three normal, visible lights by sticking their noses into a little port that corresponded with the illuminated light. Then, the researchers implanted small, infrared-detecting microelectrodes—each roughly a tenth of the diameter of a human hair—into the part of the mice’s brains that parses touch. Right after the implantation, the mice reacted to infrared stimulus by rubbing their faces, indicating that they were “feeling” the light, but eventually they learned to respond to it exactly how they’d responded to the visible lights in earlier tests. Something akin to “seeing” it or “feeling” it but not quite either.