February 19, 2013

Superhuman Vision Experiments

Coupling infrared levels with a microstimulator in rat’s brain. On each trial, the IR light (red) turns on, which activates the IR detector mounted on the rat’s head. Processing converts the detected IR level into a stimulation frequency. This value is sent to the microstimulator, which produces the desired current pulses, resulting in perception. (Credit: Nicolelis Lab)
How would you like to have superhuman vision and be able to see or sense in infrared, radio or magnet wave levels? It reminds  me of comic book or sci-fi movie characters like George Laforge in Star Trek who were born blind but had vision partially restored with infrared sight. There are legitimate experiments proving it is possible now.

An experiment done at the Duke Medical University on rats shows that it is possible to fix existing vision problems or add extra vision capabilities to our own normal vision.

Researchers at the Nicolelis Lab attached a head-mounted infrared (IR) sensor to rats and connected it to the whisker area of the brain (somatosensory cortex), using electrical microstimulation.

The rats were able to distinguish between the whisker and IR senses going to the same area without any problems

the researchers note that, in principle, this any novel stimulus (for example, magnetic or radio waves) could be used, instead of infrared light.

Sample trials from a session with “blank” trials interleaved. On random trials the IR light is activated, but is uncoupled from the (somatosensory cortex stimulation. Trial types (“stim” versus “no-stim” trials) are indicated before each trial.

Based on an article in Nature Magazine

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