John Mackenzie: Re-wired Rats

John Mackenzie’s blog about rats re-wired to “touch” infrared light makes a fascinating counterpoint to my blog on Synaesthetic Cyborgs

Mumbling Jack

I don’t know if these scientists are rebels, but they definitely have a clue. According to this article in Neuroscience News, researchers at Duke University have given rats the ability to sense infrared light. Not only can the rats “touch” infrared light, but they can learn to guide themselves by it consistently as shown by the experiment talked about in the link. The process by which they managed this involved implanting microscopic electrodes in the same area of the rats’ brains that processes touch signals from the facial whiskers and wiring those electrodes to an infrared detector attached to their foreheads.

This experiment is another bolstering of the idea of neuroplasticity, which, as the name implies, suggests that brain regions are not necessarily limited to particular tasks but can be retrained for other than their original functions. As far as I know, the field of neuroplasticity has its…

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